June has been an incredible month with the arrival of thousands upon thousands of wildebeest. The migrating animals flooded into the Grumeti Reserve from the east and slowly filled the central and western plains. Grazing and trampling the grass as they go, dropping huge amounts of manure, they open and aerate the soils and grasslands. Some species of grass actually explode into new green shoot only as they are crushed by thundering hooves. A whole chain reaction of events unfold in nature as the masses move through.
Zebra, eland and gazelle arrive in great herds too as conditions become more favourable for them. The sounds of the plains erupt as wildebeest bulls charge the great lines and usher their cows away from competing males. The sounds of horns colliding and plumes of dust on collision are continuous as brave wildebeest bulls compete for breeding opportunities.
Generally, the month has been dry, however, some small rain showers mid-month have helped anchor the huge wildebeest numbers on the Grumeti’s grass plains for just a little longer.
Here’s a sightings snapshot for June:
Great lion sightings as one would expect here on the Grumeti. Cool, cloudy mornings have seen lions active well into the day with some fantastic vocals in the early hours as lions contact call and announce their presence. The great hunting opportunities in the area have attracted other lions from the margins as often we spot unknown individuals hunting alone or on a kill well hidden in the thickets.
The Butamtam Pride have been successful in the central region hunting wildebeest and zebra. The animals are well fed and the young are looking fit and strong. The three new editions to the pride continue to do well and move from strength to strength.
Nyasirori Pride sightings have been steady in the Sabora region with some great action from the territorial males.
The West Pride continue to utilise the area on the Rahu drainage, close to Marula Explore site. They too are revelling in the abundance of prey this month has offered.
We have had some wonderful Leopard sightings this month. Some new individuals have been observed, which is always interesting, as the guiding team capture portrait images of these new cats so that we may be able to identify them as best we can.
An unknown male has been sighted on the Grumeti North drainage. This male appears to be quite comfortable with the game viewing vehicles and so observations have been relatively successful.
A young male leopard has been sighted on the western boundary of the rhino IPZ. This individual is shy, however, and requires careful approach and viewing from 100m or so with binoculars.
The Sabora male leopard has been sighted on a number of times on the drainage line just south west of Sabora.
The Mbuni male has provided some great sightings this month, close to the Grumeti River, downstream of Faru Faru.
The Mazingira mother was sighted with her two 10-month-old cubs at the base of Sasakwa Hill, close to the airstrip.
The Mbogo drainage female with two young cubs has not been seen for a while now. There is a possibility that she may have lost the cubs to lions.
Cheetah sightings this month have been very good. We have seen a number of new individuals in the central Grumeti Reserve.
Two young males have been observed between Koroya Hill and the marsh area. The animals have been seen hunting successfully from time to time.
The veteran male cheetah continues to provide some lovely sightings in the Punda Milia Hill region.
The mother and four youngsters have been observed on a number of occasions from the Nyasirori high ground through to the Kawanga plain in the west. These animals have been successfully hunting wildebeest calves and seem to be doing very well.
With the great number of wildebeest flooding the concession it is normal to see the elephants give way and move to quieter areas. However, good sightings have been a regular occurrence here on the Grumeti and in the Lamai Triangle.
The huge tusker “Zito” graced us with his presence for a short while before continuing his march north-east and on into the Ikorongo.
Some lovely matriarchal herds were sighed close to Sasakwa Hill.
Buffalo herds have been interesting to watch as they too shift with the many wildebeest pushing through the reserve. Again, like the elephants, they too prefer to create a little space for themselves rather than intermingling with the noisy herds of wildebeest.
The buffalo herd are looking very healthy currently and the young calves born during the rains are well and strong.
All rhinos are accounted for and in good shape.
There have been some lovely sightings of the large bull on the southern boundary of the intensive protection zone.
It has been a very successful month for the black rhino on the reserve.