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The Calving Season – The Great Migration’s Best Kept Secret

The Calving Season – The Great Migration’s Best Kept Secret 

The Calving season of the Great Migration is one of the spectacular events of the Great Migration and usually takes place between January and February each year, though the route of the migration has remained the same for thousands of years. The exact timings of the journey vary depending on the season rainfall, so these timings are just a mere guideline. 

The Great Migration is the most spectacular wildlife event with over 1.5 million wildebeests and ten thousands of zebras and gazelles migrate on a loop path through Tanzania and Kenya following the seasonal rains, the journey involves passing through dangerous territories. Read more

What is the Calving Season?

The Calving season of the Great Migration usually takes place between January and February of each year, between January and March, the herds are usually in the South of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park where they seek out fresh grazing.

The wildebeests make their way as far south as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area although not quite into the Crater itself where they spread out across the lush plains to feast on the fresh grasses that spring up after the rains. These plains have abundance of nourishment and are also the perfect place for female wildebeest to give birth. 

The wildebeests are always accompanied by scores of zebras and gazelles which perform the valuable function of eating the longer grasses that are less appetizing to juvenile wildebeests, once the zebras and gazelle have grazed, the soft, nutritious shoots lie exposed – perfect for young wildebeest calves to nibble on with ease.

The Ndutu Region – The Southern Region of Serengeti National Park 

The Ndutu Region forms part of the Northern Section of Ngorongoro Conservation Area and stretches to the unfenced reaches of Serengeti National Park, the area is a meeting point between these two incredible wilderness areas.

The Ndutu Region features rolling grasslands dotted with alkaline lakes attracting flocks of flamingos and acacia woodlands.

The prime game viewing spot in the Ndutu Region is around Lake Ndutu where enormous herds congregate between December and April to graze and give birth to new calves. In addition to wildebeests and calves, the region also offers excellent sightings of six species of cats that are leopard, lion, cheetah, caracal, African wildcat and serval. 

What makes the South so special?

It is no accident that the herds head south to feast and give birth, the reason why they do so is because the grasses in the Southern Serengeti are not just tasty but perfect to nourish young wildebeests as they much on this in their first few weeks.

What makes the grass here so nutritious? – the truth about the notorious grass in the Southern Serengeti goes back thousands of years to when the area around Ngorongoro was highly volcanic, the ash spewed out by these erupting volcanoes was blown over the plains near Ndutu and settled here to fertilize and nourish the soil making the grasses that grow here simply irresistible to mother wildebeest and their babies.

It is in the vast Southern plains near Ndutu that the magical and remarkable birth of wildebeests happens, over half a million wildebeests are born within a two – to three-week period. Approximately, 8,000 wildebeest calves can be born in one day. This provides for some adorable and tender moments, but do not be fooled as the moments are filled with drama from predators.

The wildebeest calves are champions at getting up and running with the herds within minutes of being born, this does not ensure that the awaiting predators are not looking for a way to feast on the vulnerable and weak calves. 

Prime Predators Hunting Action 

It shouldn’t be a surprise that with all these newly born baby wildebeests stumbling around on their wobbly legs, there are many predators in area reaches at this time of the year. However, it is not an easy meal and there is no guarantee.

The wildebeest mothers have been following this route for years, so they know most of the tricks that predators pull. Wildebeest mothers instinctively know to give birth on the shorter grass plains where approaching predators are easier to spot. 

Other mothers join them here and actually form a protective barricade around the younger and most vulnerable new additions to the herds so as to ensure that they have the greatest chances of survival. 

It is not only the older, more-experienced predators that you will see, they too have coordinated their birth of their prey so that their young have the highest chance of chance. With thousands of baby wildebeests running around, it is much easier for a mother lion, cheetah or leopard to find a meal for their hungry cubs as well as give them the opportunity to learn how to hunt for themselves.

By practicing on young calves before they have to go out and fend for themselves, young cubs learn valuable lessons during this time which are crucial to their future success. 

Why should you choose a calving season safari?

A calving season migration safari in Serengeti National Park will offer incredible sightings of wildebeests and their newborns as well as an abundance of big cats such as lions, cheetahs, leopards and African wild dogs looking for a successful hunt. 

There is plenty of dramatic action to see but also the majestic sight of the seemingly endless Serengeti plains dotted as far as your eyes can see. With grunting, grazing wildebeest and the adorable new-born animals.


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