The wildebeest are here! There has been so much rain in the Central and Southern Serengeti eco system over the past few months that there was no real driving factor to get the animals moving, instead they milled about making the most of the abundant grass and water. Every year approximately 1.6 million wildebeest start moving from the sweet grass plains in the Southern Serengeti through the Western Corridor into the Grumeti Region; from here they head to the Northern Serengeti and into the Mara before turning back to the plains in the south. Calving takes place over a three week period on the southern plains and anything between three and five hundred thousand calves are born, causing a glut of young which ensures a high survival rate from predators. The annual rut takes place during May and June and the timing for this coincides with their visit to Singita Grumeti, there are constant challenges thrown down and accepted by competing males. Harems are built, won, defended and lost.
This month I witnessed how predators are so incredibly good at assessing a situation, weighing up the potential benefits of a hunt and analysing the potential costs or risks at the same time.
We set off under the cover of darkness in the early morning and on to one of my favourite drainage lines to look for lions. As it began to get light I caught site of the Butamtam lionesses and their youngsters. We gently approached the lionesses and then switched the engine off and watched. One of the more mature lionesses, the daughter of ‘Mama Scar’, was busy nursing her five youngsters. This is interesting as lionesses only possess four teats.
I was out one morning looking for elephants as my guests were still hoping for further interaction with these special creatures. What we came across that day, we could not have prepared for – it was simply magical.