28 February 2013

Tanzania: Wildlife Migration Likely to Stop

Arusha — EARLY indicators show that the world famous Serengeti Migration involving a massive movement of more than 2.5 million Serengeti National Park wild animals may not enter Kenya's Maasai-Mara this year.

Experts at Serengeti say that the time spent by the ungulates in Maasai Mara has been dropping from two months to just a few weeks in recent years, with the shortest time being recorded last year when the animals stayed in Kenya for less than two weeks.

"Increasing human activities at Maasai- Mara, which is the Kenyan side of the Serengeti Eco-system, is what causes the annual migration of wildebeests to reduce and eventually stop going to the Kenyan sanctuary altogether," explained Mr Godson Kimaro, the senior Park Warden at Serengeti National Park.

He also recalled a scientific study by the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) which had warned of imminent changes in the wildebeest migratory patterns in future and so far the trend has started to change. Last year, there was a sudden change in the ungulates' migratory behaviour when instead of spending two months (eight weeks) in Maasai Mara, the animals stayed there for only two weeks before rushing back to Tanzania.

This year also the migration, involving 1.5 wildebeests, 400,000 zebras and thousands of antelopes as well as gazelles (with predatory hyenas and lions on tow in the rear), seems to be spending more time than usual in the southern part of the Serengeti as well as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Normally the Serengeti Migration enters Kenya in mid-August but at that time this year, the animals will still be far from the crossing point. It is thus feared that by the time the period to cross to Kenya arrives, the ungulates will still be much further from the border such that when the interval to start moving back south reaches, the animals may be forced to return without reaching Maasai-Mara.

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