Wim’s News from the Wildebeest Migration Safari:
360 degrees of Wildebeest
The cold front that arrived two days ago bringing rain and cool weather persisted again today.
Our plan was to head to the Tanzanian border in search of the cheetahs that inhabit that area. So we headed southwards.
We came across a sight that will remain imprinted on my memory forever. For almost thirty kilometres we drove through wildebeest, wildebeest, and more wildebeest. And when we thought there could simply not be another one, there were more – and more again. For all that time we could see 360 degrees of wildebeest accompanied by a large number of zebras from horizon to horizon in any direction that we cared to look.
We found out that at this time of year, something like a half million animals are found in that specific area. What a sight!
En route we saw at least thirty kills where different predators had a made a kill earlier this morning, or during the night. Lions, leopards, hyenas, cheetahs – there is bounty for all.
How would one spot a kill in that incredible black sea of wildebeest? It is the vultures that give the game away. Between a dozen and thirty vultures converged on each kill, flapping up and down, flying around, and leaving us with no doubt about where to find each carcass.
Predators are also very easy to find in the hordes of animals. Simply look for a small island devoid of wildebeest, and that little empty-looking space is sure to contain one of the hunters.
The giveaway spaces helped us to locate two lionesses lying on a termite mound atop a small rocky outcrop. The lionesses were very full, and lay there, watching the animals milling all around. The passing scene kept them marginally intrigued but they showed no inclination to get off their perches. We also found another four lionesses, also very well-fed and I could imagine that their eyes were glazed as they were not interested in anything other just lying there.
This is also how we found two cheetah brothers. We investigated one of the gaps, and there they were, also with very full tummies.
In fact they were so full that they could barely move! The most they did was to roll on their backs and yawn widely. Then they flopped down to sleep.
We went on to the Mara bridge, where, after the rains, the river is flowing strongly. We followed the river northward through more acres of wildebeest and zebras, and noted that they are keeping quite a distance from the river. So the weather and the strongly flowing river have made them very reluctant to attempt a river crossing.
This afternoon we found the same lioness that we photographed in a tree a few days ago in a tree again, trying to catch some rays of sun.
We left her to visit the river, but as before, there are thousands of animals but none seem ready to approach the river yet.
For the remainder of the afternoon we concentrated on all the other game and the rich birdlife that we have all but ignored until now. Giraffe, elephants, different antelopes … all the wonderful game that we have glanced at and driven past for the last days.
Tomorrow is our final morning here. Maybe a crossing …