During a recent stay at Selous Impala Camp in the Selous Game Reserve, Matt was lucky enough to spend some time with one of the region’s finest guides – Gerard Mwakila. They took some time to discuss the area’s uniqueness and the importance that tourism plays in protecting the wildlife. Here’s what Gerard had to say…
The Great Wildebeest Migration
Often described as the greatest show on Earth, the annual migration of over a million wildebeest (and hundreds of thousands of zebra) is a natural phenomenon like no other.
January – February
The wildebeest start their year on the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti, in the Ndutu area. January and February is the baby bonanza – female wildebeest calve en masse during a 2-3 week period, as this gives each calf a higher chance of survival. Predators are on standby hoping to take advantage of the young before they find their feet.
March - April
The wildebeest move north towards Seronera in the centre of the Serengeti. The seasonal rain means the grazing is plentiful, allowing calves to grow stronger before their big journey. The herd separates and spreads, making the most of the food available to them.
The herd begins to form the long characteristic marching columns of the migration as they make their way north.
June - July
With the rainy season over, the wildebeest head north-west in search of new grazing areas. Moving together as a herd, they can reach speeds of 40mph. The herd attempt to cross the Grumeti River, where Nile crocodiles lurk desperate for prey.
August – September
With the migration well underway, the herds are powering up towards the Masai Mara in Kenya. Expect to see even more spectacular crossings as the herd is faced with the Mara River.
By this time the herd have usually crossed over to the Masai Mara. The plentiful grazing and fresh water usually keeps the herd satisfied until the end of October. Lions are key predators here, trying to pick off any wildebeest that wander from the safety of the herd.
November – December
The herd begin to head back south into Tanzania to feast on the fresh green shoots of the Serengeti, once again forming the long columns characteristic of the migration. They will continue to the southern reaches of Ndutu ready to calve and start the life cycle and migration all over again.