The annual wildebeest migration in East Africa takes place around the same time of the year with hundreds and hundreds of wildebeest, thompson Gazelles, zebras, Grant gazelles and other animals join the trail as Serengeti wildebeest move from the dry plains of Serengeti into the fresh green grasses of Masaai Mara Game reserve.
The annual animal movements entirely depend on the onset of dark rain clouds and start of rains each year. The animals move every month in search of the fresh pastures starting in January and then continues for another year.
January- Serengeti Wildebeest Migrations
Herds of Wildebeest and zebra normally gather in the southern Serengeti plains as the dark rain clouds cross to the slopes of Ngorongoro near the Ndutu Plains. The animals from the north arrive to feast on the fresh mineral rich pastures. The rains dedicate that the herds stay here for the calving season until the short grasses have dried up around late March or early in April.
Game viewing in southern Serengeti National Park Tanzania is good around this time as many animals congregate on the banks of River Grumenti and its water holes around the Moru Kopjes, Kusini and east on the Ngorongoro conservation area. Predators such as leopards, lions and hyenas will roam across the plains pursuing the herds on their Migration route. Only 4X4 trucks and vehicles are able to cross the plains as the ground in wet and muddy
April -May Migrations
The herds move into the western parts in the direction of the western Corridor (Seronera Area) of Serengeti. The area is dominated by long Fresh grasses that stretch far to Moru Kopjes and Simiyu. On sight are several male blue wildebeests fighting over territorial dominance as different animals start moving including Zebras and a few gazelles
June Wildebeest Migrations
For June more animals migrate into the Seronera area some moving further north but remain closer to the southern side of the Grumenti River on the Dutwa plains. If you are staying at Serengeti Serena Lodge or in Grumenti River camp, you’ll have the opportunity to see these herds right from your window or verandah.
The Grumenti River is dry for this season forming a few water pools that attract animals only to find dangerous crocodiles that feast on the hesitant animals. Animals start crossing the dry river in this month. June is fantastic with Serengeti migrations; sizable herds move far north into the Lobo and Loliondo area and other blue wildebeest have resorted to the northern parts beyond Liliondo in north central Serengeti. However most of the animals stay in central Serengeti.
The wildebeest migration continues on for July as herds move northwards spreading across the plains around the Musabi and Simiti in search for fresh green pastures while the water in Grumenti river is almost done. The herds than amass near the Mara river banks grunting their way past the slow flowing water.
This time of the year is transitional with several frail animals dying from the thirst and exhaustion before the reach the Mara River. The young calves also die as the search for water to drink. As many die, predators are thankful that they have something to feast on for the day-lions, hyenas, crocodiles and cheetahs share the spoils of the drying migrants.
Over 2 million animals have now crossed over into the Masai Mara Game Reserve grazing and feeding on the fresh short pastures. August is highlighted with light showers in northern Serengeti thus stopping a few herds from crossing over into the Mara reserve. The scene on the Mara River is compared of a grunting sea of life moving into another world!
Wildebeest migration in Masai Mara begins in after the animals have crossed the Mara and thus spread cross the Mara greedily feasting on new pastures, moving further north of the reserve
October to December
The rains return to South and eastern Serengeti region, filling up the dry Grumenti river and yet pulling the herds from all parts of Masai Mara to the borders of Mara. The Mara pastures are then getting dry thus herds begin the Great Migrations yet again, this time back to the Serengeti in Tanzania.
Slowly, small herds begin migrating back to Serengeti until the end of the year. December is rainy month and thus short grass shoots appear in other parts of the Serengeti, as animals increase, and calving season begins all over again!