Maasai Mara Animal migrations
The Great Wildebeest Migration, is one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World”.
No where in the world is there a movement of animals as immense as the wildebeest migration, over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during July through to October.
The migration has to cross the Mara River in the Maasai Mara where crocodiles will prey on them. This is one of the highlights as the animals try and cross the Mara River alive.
In the Maasai Mara they will be hunted, stalked, and run down by the larger carnivores. The Maasai Mara also has one of the largest densities of lion in the world and is no wonder this is the home of the BBC wildlife channels Big Cat Diary.
About The Migration
The stage on which this show is set is loosely termed the Serengeti Ecosystem, about 40, 000 square kilometres pretty much defined by the dominant migration routes of the white bearded wildebeest (Connochaetes tuarinus mearnsi) and comprises parts of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the south; the Serengeti National Park and the adjacent Maswa Game Reserve and other ‘controlled’ areas in the centre, east and west; and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve to the north. The principle players are the wildebeest, whose numbers appear to have settled at just under 1.5 million, with supporting roles from some 350,000 Thomson’s gazelle, 200,000 zebra and 12,000 eland. These are the main migrators and they cross the ranges of over a quarter of a million other resident herbivores and, of course, carnivores. The lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and lesser predators await the annual coming of the migration with eager anticipation.
In reality there is no such single entity as ‘the migration’. The wildebeest are the migration – there is neither start nor finish to their endless search for food and water, as they circle the Serengeti- Mara ecosystem in a relentless sequence of life and death. ‘The only beginning is the moment of birth,’ notes acclaimed East African author and photographer Jonathan Scott, who has spent the better part of the last 30 years chronicling the events of the Serengeti and Maasai Mara. Similarly the only ending is death.
There is little predictability about the migration, and questions as to which is the best month to view it are likely to get different answers from different people. According to Scott, ‘You could spend a lifetime in the Serengeti-Mara waiting for the typical migration. The finer details of the herds’ movements are always different. It is a dynamic process which defies predictions: no two years are ever quite the same.’
Probably the most important element of the environment to its inhabitants is the weather and the cycle of four seasons per year undoubtedly has the defining influence on the migration. The seasons are reasonably defined: the ‘short dry season’ is typically December to February/March; the ‘long rains’ fall over a six week period from March through April and into May; and the ‘long dry season’ is from June to September, with the two-week ‘short rains’ falling any time from October into November. There are however, no guarantees about these dates.
I have spent more than 20 years in the Serengeti, but when I fly over the great herds of migratory wildebeest or watching them gather before a river crossing, I still increased the breath and my heart beats to the neck. 1.5 million wildebeest, flanked from 200,000 zebras to their hazardous way through the savannah of the Serengeti. They defy incredible hardships and dangers, always in search of rain. Markus Borner, former director of the Africa program "Frankfurt Zoological Society"
We recommend the Governor's Il Moran Camp as the leading safari camp in the Masai Mara. Other possible camps are the Governor's Main Camp, Little Governors Camp and Camp Bataluer.
As lodges in Tanzania during this time, we recommend the Faru Faru River Lodge, Sasakwa Hill Lodge, Sabora Plains Tented Camp, Grumeti River Camp, Migration Camp and Camp Kirawira. However, the Kirawira and the Moru Under Canvas tented camp are best.