The Great Migration from January to December
The great migration also known the great wildebeest migration is one of the most phenomenal natural spectacles in the world, the migration is an annual movement of millions of wildebeests accompanied by hundred thousands of zebras, grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles, elands and impalas across the greater Masai Mara- Serengeti Ecosystem.
The Great Migration is annual movement and this article helps you learn more about the historical patterns of the Great Migration in each month of the year.
In January, the great migration start move from Moru South to Naabi, Kusini and Ndutu gathering in the southern plains, due to the volcanic ash of calcretes layer just below the plains’ shallow soils. The short grasses in these plains are rich in phosphorus and magnesium.
The region experiences thunderstorms throughout January that is why you should carry some warm clothing and waterproof jackets, if you are lucky you may be rewarded with a few early calving sightings in January.
In the Great migration, February is the peak calving month offering incredible sightings of hundreds of thousands of newly born wildebeest calves as they try to take their first steps amidst huge numbers of stationery herds. The great migration and their calving season can be sighted in the Ndutu and Kusini plains and all the way towards the Ngorongoro Highlands.
February is the driest month of the rainy season with sparse shower still occurring.
In the March, the great wildebeest migration is towards the end of the calving season with the herds still stationary in the Ndutu-Kusini area, some of the herds are permeating even further south into Maswa and in the east direction of Namiri plains known as a prime predator country – so you should look out for them and keep your camera close.
The last of wildebeest calves are born amidst heavy regional thunderstorms.
April is the last month you will be able to witness the massive herds of wildebeests, zebras and gazelles strolling slowly in the Naabi and Kusini areas. The herds make the most of the remaining nutritious grasses (Digitaria, Sporobolus, Andropogon and Cynodon grasses) before they start their long journey north.
In May, the wildebeests and other herds continue to move heading north through the Moru Kopjes and towards the western corridor, in this month dramatic thunderstorm persist providing water to the currently medium to tall Pennisetum and Tussocky Themeda grasses that the herds are grazing on. The dramatic thunderstorms create a perfect opportunity for photography, the grasses is slightly less nutritious thus prompting animals to continue moving northward.
In June, the great migration in full swing and is sighted travelling swiftly up through the western corridor and the Grumenti Reserve, this month is a peak of the rutting season/time and the beginning of the dry season. However localized showers are received in the north.
From the month of June, the nutrition of the herds largely depend on the growth stage of the Digitaria, Pennisetum, Eustachys and Themeda grasses anchored in nutrient-rich clay amid the woodland plains,
In July the grass is really greener on the other side of the Mara and Sand River which prompts the herds to cross over from the plains of Serengeti national park to Maasai Mara national reserve in Kenya, the crossing is termed as the Mara River crossing and it is the most documented episode of the great migration.
In July, the head of the herd will have reached the Kogatende area in north of Serengeti national park, ready to cross Mara and Sand Rivers filled with hungry crocodiles lurking in the river waters.
In August, most of herds will cross from south to north attracted by the more nutritious grasses in the northern side of the reserve thanks to the earlier showers. However, some crossings also occur in the opposite direction. For tourists interested in spectacular sightings of the bulk of the wildebeests herds together with zebras and antelopes, the best area to head to are the Lamai Wedge and Nyamalumbwa Plains.
In September, the traffic on Mara River between Kenya and Tanzania flows in both directions though the a southerly direction will prevail by the end of the month, this treacherous traverse is one of the nature’s greatest and most tragic spectacles and tens of thousands of animals lose their lose their lives in the attempt to cross.
In September, little to no rain is received in the south and sparse showers occur in the north.
In October, as the thunderstorms being in the north, the end of the herd crosses the Mara River from Kenya down into Tanzania. Meanwhile, the bulk of animals are moving back down into the Lobo Valley region and Grumenti Reserve tracing their epic annual circle back South toward their calving grounds.
In November, the herds have largely left the north and are passing through the Lobo region heading towards the Central Serengeti. In this period the rain is still scarce here and the grasslands are less nutritious than the ideal. Interestingly the wildebeest can still share the grazing land with the zebras and this is because the 2 animals consume different parts of individual blades of grass.
In December the great migration and the herds are now dispersed across the central Serengeti from as far north Lobo to the southern areas of Ndutu. December comprises of rains which catch up with still moving herds, intense thunderstorms and localized showers experienced across the region. In this same month, the animals have returned to the more nutritious Pennisetum, Sporobolus, Andropogon, Cynodon and Themeda grasses ready to calve in the south and begin the great cycle all over again.