This short rains followed by long rains thing confuses me in East Africa. For years we’ve had bad rains in November / December and all the old timers shake their heads and mumble “mmmm another year of bad short rains.”
But this year, for a change, it rained well and hard through into the early January. And all the old timers mumbled “yes, mmmmm, good short rains this year, like the old days.”
And then, like I understood it is meant to do, the short rains finished and we had a dry spell in January and February. There were showers but they were patchy and just enough to be spectacular for photographs – sun in the foreground, black storm clouds in the background kind of stuff.
And the old timers were heard to mutter “mmmm drought … again.”
The Wildebeest’ on the other hand, seem completely confused by what I thought has been a classic rainy season so far … one from days of old. They all arrived on schedule onto the Southern Serengeti short grass plains and started calving in early February. And then everything began to dry up and they seemed to become confused.
I’m just drawing near the end of my second February Serengeti safari for the year and I must say I’m every bit as confused as the Wildebeest. They’ve shotgunned. They are everywhere. In mid February we found:
None in Southern Loliondo Gol Mountains.
A fair lot between Ndutu South to Mwiba.
And very few between Ndutu and Naabi
But then we went up to Moru Kopjes and for three solid days there was a steady stream of several hundred thousand Wildebeest gnu-ing there way past camp heading south from Mbalageti side back towards where they had just come from. Back to where they should have been the whole time – the short grass plains.
We like to say that the wildebeest do a 2000 km round trip through the course of a year. But this just shows how much more it must be. These ones must have just added another four hundred kilometers round trip. A couple more detours and side journeys like that and they could add an extra thousand on.
I’ve now heard from a friend that there are also large heards back around Golini and Simba Kopjes. I’m in a tent in Maswa Game Reserve on the border with Ngorongoro Conservation Area South of Ndutu, and the plains have a steady and satisfying stream of them constantly moving by.
So aside from all the name dropping of where the Wildebeest are in February this year, its sufficient to say that almost all of the southern Serengeti ecosystem has enough Wildebeest to satisfy us. Everywhere I’ve been in the south in February we’ve been able to get great shots of Wildebeest in migration mode!