The Migration is not a single occurrence; it is a never-ending cycle which begins for a Wildebeest with its birth and ends with its death.
A little later than in recent years, the Great Migration of 2012 finally kicked off just over a week ago. Due to heavy rains in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem since early this year, the Plains grass has been long and has hampered the progress of the wildebeest, delaying their arrival north into Kenya.
However, as of 17th July, the herds have been making steady progress into Kenya with the first reported arrival in the Mara of a group of around 10,000 Wildebeest on 17th and 18th July. From the Sand River area, isolated concentrations of Zebra and Wildebeest were observed congregating in the north of the Serengeti. According to sightings in the area, the current migrating herds have split into three distinct groups with one making its way up from Grumeti in the eastern Serengeti; another moving north from Bologonja (approximately 10 miles south of the Masai Mara in the northern Serengeti) towards the Sand River; and a third approaching from the eastern side of the Kuka Hills. This third group started trickling into the Mara on 17th July. On 20th July guests at Porini Lion Camp reported having seen several hundred wildebeest crossing the Mara River and on 24th July thousands of Wildebeest were seen crossing the Sand River between Sala’s Camp and the Mara River South Bridge, very likely part of the group which had been coming up from Bologonja - so the action has most definitely started!
On a slightly disappointing note, anger and dissension was triggered a few days ago when Controlled Burning in northern Tanzania was falsely and maliciously reported in the local press as arson and an “attempt to stop the Migration” (yes, really!). This is emphatically not the case and Controlled Burning, or “Swailing” as it is also known, is a technique widely employed both here and indeed worldwide as a responsible method of not only preventing hotter and more dangerous fires later on but also, and equally importantly, clearing the way for the germination of fresh grass – thereby renewing the plains and actually helping, rather than hindering, our Game.