An introduction to The Great Migration’s rutting season and their migration north
For the entirety of the wet season, our young wildebeest has spent the first few months of its life in the Serengeti’s short grass plains. Getting stronger daily due to its mothers nutritionally rich milk from mineral rich grass, our calf is oblivious to the fact that it faces one of the greatest challenges known to a young animal – a 600km Great Migration – in the first few months of its life. The short grass plains it will now leave behind are where it would not survive if it stayed. The Serengeti’s short grass plains in the dry season are an arid, lethal place.
The herds will leave their wet season short grass plains when the rainwater pans dry up, possibly even before the grass has stopped growing. I’ve heard some guides say that the parasite load can also force the herds to move north, however the fact remains that in April or early May, for a possible number of different reasons, the herds start their big migration north.
Historically the herds move northwest towards the western corridor before they move to their dry season grazing grounds of the northern Serengeti and the Maasai Mara National Reserve. This is backed up by the satellite data we have, which clearly indicates a move to the western corridor. However not all wildebeest follow this route. Many head up through the heart of Seronera in the central Serengeti whilst some guides claim that every year they will see good numbers moving up the eastern boundary and even through Loliondo itself to the east of the Serengeti.