I am also very pleased to report that despite our most recent census conveying a slight decline in the eland populations, that we have been seeing lovely herds all over the reserve. The average herd size is anywhere from 8 to 15 members and lovely bachelor herds numbering up to 20 individuals at times. The Cokes hartebeest have been seen on occasions in small herds with large numbers of other herbivores. They are usually seen in the quieter hills and valleys of the Pimbi region.
We were fortunate again this month to locate a single roan antelope in the Ikorongo region. The young cow was seen as I drove past the Korongo Hills. After searching for signs of other herd members for some time I unfortunately had to admit defeat and accept the possibility that she may well be alone. The roan antelope has battled here for years and without doubt is on the decline. They unfortunately do not do well with heavy competition and predation, and with the biomass
generally booming here in the Grumeti this antelope species is slowly pushed out to the margins where it
seeks a peaceful existence in the quieter corners. There have been reports of sightings of a lone bull on
occasions but the last report of a herd structure with a number of individuals was many months ago.
Perhaps the herd has found a secluded valley somewhere amongst the hills? These areas are rarely visited
and it may well be possible… we can only hope.
Interesting bird sightings
The month of September has seen some lovely bird sightings as always. This is an exciting time of year as we can expect to start seeing some of the migratory species moving through Tanzania.
This month we have started to see the arrival of the European bee-eater that you will often hear before you see as they glide on the winds out on the grasslands. These birds are Palearctic migrants on their way to winter in southern Africa and we often see them here on the reserve during the months of September, October and November. We do not usually see them again until they return on their northward journey from March to May.
Another lovely little Palearctic visitor that we have been seeing this month is the sand martin. They too are on their southward journey to winter in southern Africa. They do not usually pause for too long before continuing, and so to see them whilst out walking has been a treat.
On the Grumeti River we have been lucky enough to spot the western banded snake eagle on occasions which is very special. This uncommon resident likes to hunt adjacent to the riverine vegetation and woodland edges. If you know its distinctive call this will alert you to its presence before setting eyes on it.
It was a beautiful morning as I drove the Raho drainage area with my guests when we noticed a large martial eagle that seemed to be showing considerable interest in a small group of white storks. The white storks were feeding on the edge of a pool on the drainage line.
It was the beginning of April when I was driving along the banks of the Grumeti River and happened across a breeding herd of elephants. There had been some reasonable rain in the last few days and the river was flowing steadily. I realised that the herd of elephants wanted to cross the river towards me and so I positioned the vehicle nicely to observe this with my guest.
It was early in the morning and the birds were singing their pleasant melodies. Guests and I were watching the stunning rays of the sun as it rose over the hills to the east. Whilst enjoying this powerful moment, out on the Sasakwa Plain, I glanced to the north to see a male cheetah lying down on the grasslands. I turned to the guests and told them what I had seen but they could not believe the distance at which I had identified it. We moved in for a closer look. It appeared that this lovely male cheetah was becoming active as it yawned, stood and began to stretch.