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Finding the Great Migration- June 2022

Finding the Great Migration:  Migration Update June 2022

Great Migration update 18 June 2022. This is a difficult time of year to find the great migration.  In years of normal rainfall, the statistics and literature indicate that the large herds should be on the western side of the Serengeti National Park. The western side of the Serengeti gets more rain due to its physical location close to Lake Victoria, so the logic is that in dry years the wildebeest herds should migrate through the North Western Serengeti.  Finding the herds can be tricky as vast tracks of the area is privately owned hunting blocks of the park buffer zone.

Serengeti Great Migration Update, Serengeti Balloon Safaris, 16 June 2022

Finding the great migration in the west – June 2022

It’s mid-June 2022, and the majority of the herds are in the western corridor of the Serengeti.  This is the longer route to the Mara River and northern Serengeti.  The herds are moving slowly and a full Grumeti River has also slowed the progress of the herds moving northwards.

There was a lot of early rain in the NW corner of the ecosystem. The rains stopped early this year, so the southern plains dried out quickly causing the wildebeest herds to migrate. The wetter north-west corner is the preferred dry season grazing. Wildebeest love the red oat grass that grows in the moist, deeper soils.  June 2022 is becoming a classic text book year for the great migration.  By the end of June, all the Western herds should have crossed the Grumeti River, and we can expect the migration to reach Kogatende and the Mara River from the west for river crossings in 4-6 weeks’ time.

June is a privileged time to find the great migration. You may have to work a bit harder out in the west – which is further away and fascinatingly wilder. If you are lucky to find the great migration in June- it is spectacular.   Witness this great natural phenomenon of hundreds of thousands of animals marching in columns up to 40 kilometers long and be blown away. Check out the video below from the Western Serengeti and the marching herds. It’s insane! Follow up your watch journey to the western Serengeti with Episode 24- West End . There’s more great migration, as well as river animals of the Serengeti on show.

Migration Madness. Episode 23 of the Serengeti Show Live Series in 2020.
Discover the Western Corridor of the Serengeti and the classic long columns of wildebeests migrating through the area- it’s astounding!

Finding the great migration in the east – June 2022

Finding the great migration in the east, is sometimes forgotten when the western herds dominate the wildlife news.   This June many of the Eastern Herds, moved west through Seronera to join the western herds and contribute to the big numbers on that side of the Serengeti National Park.

20% of the Eastern Herds remained on that side of the Serengeti, and those wildebeest can currently be found near Togoro Plains. The eastern great migration herds are moving northwards fairly quickly so we anticipate them reaching the Sand River in the first week of July.  This means there could be some Sand River Crossings into the Mara Reserve as early as July 2022 for the first river crossings of the 2022 season.

This seasonal river with a sandy bottom, is the virtual game drive of Episode 28 exploring the Serengeti. Watch for an unexpected crossing.

If the conditions in the Mara reserve aren’t suited to the wildebeest needs yet, the early herds may back track to the Serengeti and cross the Mara River from north to south.  These would be the first Mara River Crossings.

The third, yet least likely scenario for the first river crossings of 2022, is that the eastern herds don’t cross the sand river in early July. They would move north and west, slowly gathering near crossing point No 10 or Makutano for a potential Mara River crossing at the junction.

Finding the great migration in July. Predictions for river crossing season ’22

  • We predict some small river crossings to start in the first half of July. Crossings would likely be the Sand River or Eastern Mara River.
  • The first herds of the great migration coming from the West, should arrive at the Mara River in mid-July 2022.  Big herds are already gathering as the wildebeest migrate northwards.
  • At Great Migration Camps we are eagerly waiting for a bumper season.  We are expecting some big river crossings starting in July ’22.

Join us for the world’s largest overland mammal migration as 1.5 million wildebeest, 400,000 zebra, 18,000 eland and 200,000 Thompson’s gazelle move through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. We don’t wait for the herds to come to us, we take you to them – leaving no trace.

Email info@greatmigrationcamps.com to book your seat to the great migration. We still have some space still available in early July & late August. Book soon to avoid disappointment.

wildebeest

Wildebeest

noun [ C ]
UK /ˈwɪl.də.biːst/ US /ˈwɪl.də.biːst/

​a large antelope with curved horns
a herd of wildebeest
plural wildebeest or wildebeests

a large African animal with a long tail and horns that curve to the sides that lives in areas covered in grass

Wildebeest are large African antelopes and belong to the Bovidae family. The word wildebeest comes from the Afrikaans language and translates to wild beast. Another name for the wildebeest is gnu (pronounced “new”).

Wildebeest Synonym

gnu (/njuː/ NEW or /nuː/ NOO)

‘Gnu’ is from a Khoikhoi language (which pronounced the [g]), which likely imitated it from the grunt-type noise that a wildebeest makes.

Wildebeest Word Origin

early 19th cent.: from Afrikaans, literally ‘wild beast’.

Dutch settlers first “discovered” wildebeest in about 1700, on their way to the interior of South Africa. Due to their resemblance to wild cattle, the Afrikaans people called them “wild ox/cattle” or “wildebeest” due to its untamed appearance and vigorous nature.

Wildebeest Size and Appearance

The blue wildebeest is a member of the antelope family, although its heavy build and disproportionately large forequarters make it look more bovine. They have large heads, shaggy manes, pointed beards, and sharp, curved horns.  Blue wildebeests can reach 8 feet in length, stand 4.5 feet tall at the shoulders and weigh up to 600 pounds. Both males and females grow horns.

Wildebeest collective noun

confusion of wildebeests or an implausibility of wildebeests

The noun for a group of wildebeest is taken from the loud noise and confusion that erupt during migration season – caught up in the middle of the movement, your head is bound to spin.

Wildebeest species

There are two species of wildebeest: the black wildebeest or white-tailed gnu (Connochaetes gnou), and the blue wildebeest or brindled gnu (Connochaetes taurinus). In East Africa, the blue wildebeest perform the annual great migration and are the Serengeti species.

COMMON NAME: Blue Wildebeest
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Connochaetes taurinus
TYPE: Mammals
DIET: Herbivore
GROUP NAME: Herd
AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN THE WILD: 20 years
SIZE: 125 cm (48 inches)
WEIGHT: 118 – 270 kilograms  (260 – 595 pounds)
HABITAT:  Open woodlands, open grassy plains.
DIET: Herbivorous
GESTATION:  8.5 months
PREDATORS:  Lions, cheetahs, hyena

Is it time to get your safari on and see some wildebeest for yourself? 

Chat to us about which aspect of the Great Migration you’d most like to see. Read our explainer here. We can advise you on your Tanzania Safari and help you to plan your great migration safari to see the wildebeest herds!  Contact us on sally@greatmigrationcamps.com. Let’s chat Great Migration! Let’s chat Conservation through Tourism. Come and see the wildebeest for yourself.

Great Migration Update: Where are the wildebeest? May ’22

Great Migration Update 27 May 2022

Where are the Wildebeest of the Great Migration?

The annual migration cycle is one of movement in May and June, making these tough months for accurate location predictions of the wildebeest herds.  The migration is on the move due to some contributing factors.  So far this May 2022,  most of the migration updates have been coming from Seronera as wildebeest herds move through the central Serengeti.

The back-end of the migratory herds are still in the southern and western sectors of the Serengeti National Park.  These pockets of wildebeest are moving slowly.

The Eastern herds, were moving northwards fairly quickly, and there are still some migratory herds on the Eastern Plains.  There are some scattered herds around Mbuzi Mawe, Banagi Hill and Togoro Plains.  Many of the wildebeest that were heading north on the eastern border, crossed through Seronera to the west.

The eastern herds that crossed over to the western Serengeti have become the leaders of the great migration.  They can easily travel 10km per day, often in long lines as they head north.  A few large herds were crossing the Orangi River near Hembe and heading North-West.

Why is the wildebeest whereabouts significant to the great migration?

It is far easier for the wildebeest herds to cross the Upper Grumeti river which has fewer obstructions and geographical barriers than the lower stretches of the river. The lower Grumeti River can be treacherous as it is far larger in size with more water which is dangerous & can slow the wildebeest down.

The impact of the Grumeti River on the great migration

The Grumeti River is a lifeline that cuts through the incredible Serengeti scenery from the north east of the national park and west to Lake Victoria. In river terms, the Grumeti River is short at only 180km, with the upper catchment area near Klein’s Gate.  Water from the Lobo Hills and Bologonja areas, feed into the Upper Grumeti River.

The real water comes from the Upper Orangi River whose catchment area is a vast area in the Serengeti (from Central Banangi Hill, Ngare Nanyuki, Seronera Valley and Makoma).  All the water from the central Serengeti flows into the Oranji River, which feeds the lower Grumeti River, providing a huge catchment area with the Upper stretches of river.   The confluence of the Orangi and Grumeti Rivers is just west of Hembe.

The Grumeti River flows for 3-4 months a year during the wet season, and yearly flooding can occur, as the River is on a broad floodplain, with typical sandy soils and riparian forests.

The impact of the change in vegetation on the great migration

In the south-eastern plains of the Serengeti, there is shallow volcanic ash soil, ideal for the wildebeest during calving season as the grass is short, nutritious and abundant – enough to sustain 1.5 million wildebeest for a few months.  As the plains dry out, the wildebeest are forced to move north, where the changing landscape and soil types alter the vegetation.

It’s wetter in the west – there is more water and more rain as you closer you get to Lake Victoria.  There is lots of water at all the springs and granite zones all the way north from Seronera to the Masai Mara.  Navigating through the wet takes longer and slows the wildebeest herds down.

In addition to the water, there is a lot of grass. The deep sandy soils of the North-western Serengeti have rich, nutritional red oat grass – in abundance right now. One can hardly blame the wildebeest for taking their time, through 80km of delicious red oat grass to graze.

Flashback to this video taken in 2017 where we stopped to look at the red oat grass – beautiful grass that the wildebeest love, and had a lovely interaction with this young bull elephant on the plains of the Lamai Wedge, Northern Serengeti,

To date, we are not aware of any fires, which are commonly lit at the beginning of the dry season by park rangers, to prevent larger-scale fires later in the season, that can reduce woodland cover.

Great Migration Updates:  movement of the wildebeest herds

These migration updates are gathered from a network of guiding professionals and safari experts in the field. Reports are shared directly from the Serengeti itself.  We share these updates for those planning a safari, as well as those who guiding safaris or supplying supplementary services to the industry.

In the south, the Serengeti borders the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In the north, the Serengeti borders Kenya’s Masai Mara.   Surrounding the Serengeti National Park are buffer zones:  Maswa, Loliondo, Grumeti and Ikorongo.  The entire eco-system is open and unfenced, which in itself allows the great migration to take place.

Wildebeest being out of the park boundaries, partially explains why they can be hard to find.   It may seem strange that nearly 2 million creatures can’t be found, as if the great Houdini had performed a vanishing act in the Serengeti.  Remember, the Serengeti is huge- it’s the size of a small country – about 30,000 square kilometers (12,000 square miles), and 160km (100 miles) of bush from north to south.  (Manhattan Island in New York which is 21.6 km (13.4 miles) long and how hard it is to find someone in that city.

We love maps, especially when they include Tanzania, the Great Migration or the Serengeti National Park.  Check out MapFight – it’s a really cool map comparison tool –  you can compare the sizes of any areas or country. Let us know how your country or state compares in size to the Serengeti and you will have a better idea of the vast scale, and why we are constantly looking for wildebeest.

Join Great Migration Camps or follow us, as we follow the Great Wildebeest Migration .  A journey through the Serengeti from the southern plains to the Mara River and back.  We follow the wildebeest, zebra , eland and Thomson’s gazelle as they migrate through the Mara-Serengeti Eco-system.

We have mixed availability in Kogatende area for the River Crossing Season 2022.  Book early  for the great migration river crossing season.  Email: sally@greatmigrationcamps.com #Conservationthroughtourism