Serengeti Update
Jan-March 2001 April-June 2001 July-Sep 2001 Oct-Dec 2001 Jan-March 2002 April-Dec 2002 Jan-April 2003 May-Aug 2003 October 2003 Dec 03-Dec 04 Jan-April 2005

 

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Have you ever wanted to know exactly where the famous wildebeest migration is and what the famous Serengeti lions are up to on a day-to-day basis?  

This page provides unique and up to the minute reports on wildlife sightings in the Serengeti and other Tanzanian game reserves.  All reports are credited and are provided by one of the following organisations: Ndutu Safari Lodge, Wildersun Safaris, and Ultimate Africa Safaris).  If you're like me, just reading these reports will make you want to start planning your next safari adventure!  If so, you may contact them by clicking on their names above - they will be happy to answer any query you may have.  You can also read more about Wildersun Safaris  on the Serengeti page.  

If you want to read about recent wildlife sightings at other African wildlife destinations you may visit our African Safari Update page.

African Safari 

(To see books on the great wildebeest migration and other African wildlife please visit the bookstore.)

Don't forget, the webmaster's live daily reports of his trip to the Ndutu Lodge to see the migration have now been published. 

October/November 2005

LOCATION    Serengeti

WEATHER     Dry

DETAILS

Elephants just plodding by

Ndutu is at the end of a very long dry season. The dust seems to get everywhere, temperatures are hot and tempers are high. Relief from the heat is near, as rain clouds start to build and rumbles of distance thunder break the afternoon silence. It has rained on the surrounding plains and some days we can even smell the rain although it never quite makes it to us. The fire ball lilies are flowering everywhere adding a nice touch of red colour to the parched earth and another sure sign of the approaching rains. Waiting for rain is one of the most frustrating things about living in the bush. The pace of life slows down at this time; the animals also seem to slow down. Even the young bull elephants that usually can't resist trumpeting at passing cars are just plodding by, waiting for the rain.

Lion

The game viewing has been amazing lately. The Lions from the Masek pride have ten tiny cubs. This makes the pride up to 23 and it made a grand sight to see them feeding from a buffalo kill recently. The cubs were adorable cavorting and gamboling around while the adults fed. We just wanted to scoop one up but like pulling a lions tail, we know it's a bad idea. The adults don't look so cute; they look thin and mean at this time of year.

Lion at tree

We've had no end of interesting things happening in the lodge itself. A lioness was seen a few days ago from the main lodge area. She was walking by when she suddenly saw an impala ram feeding alone. We watched enthralled for the next half an hour as she went down low and edged closer and closer. Watching the lion and impala alternately you realize how much impalas and other prey animals are constantly on the look out for danger, they feed only for a few seconds before looking up. It was in the afternoon and naturally such an observant impala spotted the lioness and ran off with a snort. It's such a treat to watch such behaviour while out of a vehicle although we were in the comfort and safety of the bar. Then the lioness also disappeared which was a little alarming because she was quite close though we never saw her again.

Baby elephantsPlenty of elephants have passed through the lodge this month. Guests enjoying tea one afternoon were treated to a group of around 250 zebra, five buffalo, a small group of kongoni and a herd impala grazing in front of the lodge and through this idyllic scene walked a line of 30 elephants. They ambled through the entire length of the lodge before fading away into the trees. Raiding the well

The elephants (usually the bulls) have continued to raid the wells this month for water. Mr. DT the notorious bull elephant who seems to have moved into the lodge this week is the leader of the well raiders.

The nights are hot and still at the moment. The only sounds are of the odd hyena whooping in the night, the sudden crack of a tree being trimmed by an elephant or the chatter of flamingoes passing high overhead. Flamingoes migrate between the rift valley soda lakes at night, probably to avoid predation from birds of prey. They must be disappointed to find the Lakes Ndutu and Masek dry.

BuffaloThe most interesting sighting from guests that I've heard recently was of a leopard being treed by a striped hyena. When the leopard tried to climb down it was chased up the next tree by the stripy, this happened 3 times. Lions, tree leopards, and, I can imagine, spotted hyenas doing so but I've never heard of a striped hyena doing this. It's very special just to catch a glimpse of a leopard but to see such interesting behaviour between two such uncommon animals is very rare.

Cheetah

There have been lots of cheetah sightings lately. Males, females, mothers with cubs, males hijacking females and hunts have been seen. Some guests who were on their last day of safari came to Ndutu hoping to see cheetah, as it was the only thing they hadn't seen. After a long tiring journey from the north of Serengeti, half the group remained behind from the evening game drive while the others went looking for cheetah. The guests who remained behind at the lodge watched on as a male cheetah casually strolled by the lodge in the evening light. Those that went looking for the cats didn't see any. Isn't that always the way of things.

Paul,
Ndutu Safari Lodge.

Ndutu Sunset

(This update is reproduced with the kind permission of Ndutu Safari Lodge - www.ndutu.com - a lodge set in Acacia woodland overlooking Lake Ndutu just to the south of the Serengeti). 

 

July/August 2005

LOCATION    Serengeti

WEATHER     Dry

DETAILS

Lion

July was a busy and exciting month. It all started when the lions from the Masek pride killed a giraffe about two hundred metres from our end room. All the staff from the lodge took it in turns to go out in the car to see the lions. Damian a new staff member, who has just started working in our kitchen, had never before seen a lion. I think it was quite a thrill for him to see wild lions and hopefully heíll see many more at Ndutu.

Once the kill was finished they moved to the lodge, all 16 of them, and plonked themselves down not far from the bar. The peace and tranquility of the African night was shattered and I donít think many of our guests slept much that night. The roaring was phenomenal, windows rattled and heart rates went up. It was an amazing sound and one that I never get tired of. The morning revealed pug marks around the rooms and down the paths.

In the same week we watched on as a cheetah tried to catch one of our resident impalas. All I saw was a big cloud of dust and running impala and I had no idea what had happened. By the time I asked at the bar what was going on, the dust had settled and the cheetah was resting only a few metres away from the dining room. She was a grand sight sitting behind the ďDANGER NO ONE BEYOND THIS POINTĒ sign, trying to get her breath back.

It would have made a great photograph but as always the camera wasnít to hand. All the kitchen staff came out to have a look; it was also another first for Damian. She was completely unconcerned by our presence and it was only after about twenty minutes when finally she moved off into the woodland.

Sunset photo (no cheetah)

We always photograph cheetahs for the Serengeti cheetah watch campaign and encourage guests to do so. [See box on left] Researchers use the pictures to identify and monitor cheetah movements in the Ngorongoro/Serengeti area. Being such a big area itís impossible for the researchers to be in all places at once, so tourist photos of cheetahs have become an invaluable aid to their research. Of course Iím going to be in big trouble when they find out that I didnít get a picture of a cheetah in our own Lodge!

The genet cats that live in the rafters above the bar have just had kittens. They caused consternation recently when one of the kittens fell out of the banana thatch onto the floor. Once everyone was persuaded to keep their distance, the mother came down and carried the youngster backup into the thatch apparently none the worst for its experience. The resident herd of impala are spending much time around the lodge, eating the fallen acacia pods. During the night they come right up to the steps of the guestrooms to munch these acacia pods. It sounds like somebody is crunching burnt toast outside your bedroom window.

Two hippos have been seen in and around the Big Marsh, which is very unusual. They looked grand grazing around the swamp recently, with little white socks of soda dust on their feet.

Elephant

July was an outstanding month for elephants. The Ndutu elephants move over huge distances and sometimes disappear altogether, so itís a treat to have so many around this month. Thereís been plenty of pruning of the acacia woodlands by the elephants around the Marsh, as this is probably the only source of protein available to them. I donít know if the course swamp grass in the Marsh has much goodness in it? The elephants do eat it at times, though itís probably not very palatable.

 

Despite all of this, the ellies still look in good condition, though they still have several months to go before the rains. Every year we hope for early rain. It never seems to arrive early, and then when it does everyone complains about too much rain. Africa is either muddy or dusty, theyíre both great but too much of either is a bit trying at times.

Although very dry and dusty thereís still plenty to see. Lots of stunning sunsets and on one recent drive we saw cheetah, lion, elephants, giraffes, warthogs, plenty of gazelles and a serval cat all in the space of an hour. I think we had more than our fair share of luck. Then, thatís what game drives are all about, luck!

Paul
Elephant sunset

(This update is reproduced with the kind permission of Ndutu Safari Lodge - www.ndutu.com - a lodge set in Acacia woodland overlooking Lake Ndutu just to the south of the Serengeti). 

June/July 2005

LOCATION    Serengeti

WEATHER     Dry

DETAILS

Ndutu is now dry, drier than normal. The wildebeest have long since left but large herds of eland are still to be seen on the plains. I counted a herd of over 200 recently which was a magnificent sight, but impossible to photograph. These beautiful animals are the most nervous of all the Serengeti antelopes and you never get close to them. What intrigues me is where do the all the eland go once they leave the plains, does anyone know?

After reporting the trampling of (Snap) the crocodile in the Big Marsh by a zebra in February. We feared for his/her well being so it was with great joy that it has been seen again this week cruising the pool in the swamp. No one had seen the croc for nearly 3 months and we were getting a little worried about him after his ill-fated attack on a zebra.

Rutting impalaLogistics is one of our biggest challenges at Ndutu. Making sure we have enough fresh fruit & vegetables and cold beers for our guests is only part of the job. Bags of sugar, rice, flour and cement are just as important, so are the boxes of nails, spare parts for the cars, diesel for the generators, material for the staff uniforms and a thousand other things that can be difficult to find at times. All these are brought in by our own vehicles, which can be fun during very wet periods when rivers are in flood, lorries and buses trying to climb up the Ngorongoro highlands become hopelessly stuck and block the roads for hours.

Our cars take quite a beating on the rough roads, broken shock absorbers and punctures are common. Our drivers are great bush mechanics because they have to be. The roads always feel much worst when you carry panes of glass, mirrors or fridges and freezers, you feel every bump. The only thing we have no control over is the gas we use for cooking. This comes in a large tanker truck. Weíre obviously better organised than the Gas Company as we frequently run out of gas. Itís now been several weeks since we last had gas. This makes it very hard work for the kitchen staff as they have to cook everything over wood fires. Bread is baked in a tin trunk over hot coals. It takes some skill to bake like this as the temperature control is limited to scraping hot coals off the box to reduce heat or heaping them on to add heat. Many loaves a day are made as well as bread rolls for breakfast, biscuits, cakes and even chocolate eclairs if the cook is in a good mood.

Masek Pride cubsThe Masek pride has been in much evidence this past week. Many a night weíve been kept awake by their constant roaring. Elephants have been passing through the Lodge this week much to everyoneís delight. And during May two old buffalo bulls took up residence for a while. It was great to have them here but a bit tricky walking back to the rooms at night, though sadly they now seem to have moved off, although a family of warthogs seems to have moved in and replaced them. They can be seen most days grazing or trotting around the lodge. Plenty of giraffes visiting at night and itís a common to hear them walking down the paths as they feed from the trees between the rooms.

HyenasHyenas whooping, during the night is a very soothing sound when tucked safely up in bed. Guests who leave their shoes outside on their verandahs at night are unwise to do so as hyenas find these irresistible to chew and I guess the smellier the shoes the better. Not far from the big Marsh there is a hyena den with small cubs. I donít normally go gooey over baby animals but these hyena pups are very cute although Iím quite sure even at this small stage they could bite chunks out of you.

HyenasHyenas

Although dry around Lake Masek, the lake itself is still stunning. On a recent sundowner trip to Masek we enjoyed watching the flamingoes on the lake along with a small group of pelicans and numerous waders on the lakeshore. A family group of elephants came down to drink close to where the resident hippos live and on the way home we came across a large group of buffalo. In the past the only view you saw of the Masek buffalo was a large cloud of dust as they cantered off into the woodlands. But these days they are calming down very nicely, even though they seem to stare at you menacingly from under their bossed horns. A beautiful sunset followed by the planet Venus shinning brightly in the West, and a cold beer around the campfire was a lovely ending to the day.

Paul.

Cheetah

Elephant

(This update is reproduced with the kind permission of Ndutu Safari Lodge - www.ndutu.com - a lodge set in Acacia woodland overlooking Lake Ndutu just to the south of the Serengeti). 

 

Previous updates appear on the following pages:

January-April 2005

Dec 2003 - Dec 2004

October 2003

May-August 2003

January-April 2003

April-December 2002

January- March 2002

October-December 2001

July-September 2001

April-June 2001

January-March 2001

 

 

Did you like these reports? 

Email Tim at mailto:TimClark@wildlifetravel.net.

       

 

 

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