Updated: Nov 3
Calving season in the Serengeti is a remarkable time when thousands of wildebeest and other herbivores give birth to their young. This natural spectacle usually occurs during February and March when the lush grasses of the southern Serengeti offer ideal conditions for grazing and providing sustenance for the newborns. It's a period of vulnerability for the young animals as they become easy prey for predators, making it a thrilling yet poignant time to witness the circle of life on the African savannah. Calving season is a highlight of the Great Wildebeest Migration and a unique opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts to observe nature's incredible cycle. In late January and early February, one of the most incredible events in the Serengeti unfolds during the wildebeest calving season. At the height of this period, an astounding 8,000 young wildebeest enter the world each day. There is simply nothing that rivals the sight of a newly born wildebeest joyfully sprinting just moments after its birth.
The calving season in the Serengeti is a remarkable event in which a large number of wildebeest give birth to their young. This process unfolds as follows:
Timing: The calving season typically occurs in late January through early February. During this time, thousands of pregnant wildebeest gather in the southern Serengeti, specifically around the Ndutu area, where the soil is rich and the grass is lush.
Grazing Conditions: The reason for this seasonal gathering is the availability of abundant and nutrient-rich grass. The wildebeest are attracted to this region due to the presence of green pastures, providing essential nutrition for both the expectant mothers and their future offspring.
Birthing: The wildebeest mothers give birth to their calves in a relatively short period, usually over a few weeks. Each day during this peak period, an estimated 8,000 baby wildebeest are born.
Newborns: The newborn wildebeest are incredibly precocious. They can stand on their wobbly legs and begin walking within minutes of birth. This adaptability is essential for their survival, as it helps them evade predators.
Predators: The calving season attracts predators like lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas. They are aware of the abundance of vulnerable young prey and are ready to seize the opportunity for easy hunting.
Survival: The survival rate of the young wildebeest varies, but many will fall prey to the numerous predators. The Serengeti's ecosystem is a continuous cycle of life and death, and the wildebeest's birthing season is a pivotal part of this process.
The Predators of the Serengeti during Calving Season.
During the calving season in the Serengeti, the abundance of vulnerable young prey attracts a variety of predators. Here are some of the main predators you can expect to encounter during this remarkable event:
Lions: Lions are perhaps the most iconic predators of the Serengeti. During the calving season, lion prides take advantage of the abundance of young wildebeest and other prey. They often target newborn calves and are known for their strategic hunting techniques.
Leopards: Leopards are solitary and elusive predators known for their ability to ambush and take down prey. They also participate in hunting during the calving season, focusing on young and inexperienced wildebeest and other herbivores.
Cheetahs: Cheetahs are specialized hunters, using their incredible speed to chase down prey. They prefer to hunt smaller and more manageable prey, such as young wildebeest and gazelles, making them active during the calving season.
Hyenas: Spotted hyenas are opportunistic scavengers and hunters. They often follow the wildebeest herds during the calving season, waiting for chances to steal kills from other predators or targeting weak or injured animals.
African Wild Dogs: These highly social predators hunt cooperatively in packs. They focus on taking down young and inexperienced prey during the calving season. Their teamwork and stamina make them formidable hunters.
Jackals: Both black-backed and golden jackals are present in the Serengeti and opportunistically hunt young or weak wildebeest calves.
Vultures: While not active predators, vultures play a vital role in the ecosystem by cleaning up carcasses left behind by other predators. They gather in significant numbers when a kill occurs.
These predators play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of the Serengeti. While the calving season provides abundant prey, it is also a challenging time for the young animals, creating a dynamic and intense cycle of life and death in the wild. Witnessing the interactions between predators and prey during this season is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for visitors to the Serengeti.
Where to to experience the calving season in the Serengeti.
The best place to experience the calving season in the Serengeti is in the southern region of the Serengeti ecosystem, specifically in the Ndutu area. This area, part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, is where the wildebeest and zebras gather to give birth to their young from late January through March. Ndutu offers prime opportunities for witnessing this incredible natural event, making it a popular choice for wildlife enthusiasts and safari-goers during the calving season.
Where to Stay to Witness Calving Season.
To witness the Great Migration's calving season, you should plan to stay in the Ndutu area of Tanzania, which is part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the southern Serengeti ecosystem. Calving season typically occurs from late January through March, and it's an incredible wildlife spectacle as thousands of wildebeest and zebras give birth to their young.
Here are some accommodations in the Ndutu area where you can stay to witness the calving season:
Ndutu Safari Lodge: This lodge is strategically located in the Ndutu area and offers comfortable accommodations with excellent views of the plains. It's an ideal place to witness the calving season.
Kusini Tented Camp: Situated in the southern Serengeti, this luxury camp provides guests with an exclusive experience during the calving season. It's known for its prime location for wildlife viewing.
Sanctuary Kusini: Another luxury camp in the southern Serengeti, it offers great opportunities to see the calving season unfold.
Serengeti Safari Camp: This mobile camp moves with the wildebeest herds, making it a fantastic option to stay close to the action during calving season.
Nomad Tanzania's Serengeti Safari Camp: Like the previous camp, this mobile camp follows the migration, ensuring that you're in the heart of the action during the calving season.
Please note that accommodations can fill up quickly during the calving season, so it's essential to book well in advance. Additionally, the exact timing of the calving season can vary from year to year, so it's a good idea to consult with a reputable tour operator for the most up-to-date information on the best time to visit and to help you plan your safari.
Witness the Great Migration's calving season with Travel wise safari
To witness the Great Migration's calving season with Travel Wise Safari, start by contacting them and expressing your interest. They'll help you plan your safari adventure by discussing your preferences and customizing an itinerary. Once you're satisfied with the details, you'll book your trip and receive essential pre-safari information. During your safari, Travel Wise Safari will ensure you have a knowledgeable guide, comfortable accommodations, and a well-planned itinerary to experience the calving season. After enjoying this incredible spectacle, they'll help with your return travel arrangements. It's a great way to see the wildlife wonders of Tanzania with the experts.