Local Rangers Interfere with Migration
The famed wildebeest migration in parts of East Africa was brought to a halt by huge wildfires that raged along the route. More than 2 million of the migratory grazers cross from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve each year at this time.
But rangers set fire to some of the overgrown grasslands in their path to help what they describe as pasture regeneration. The smoke and fires have spooked the wildebeest, causing them to stop short of the Sand River, along the Kenya and Tanzania border.
Wildebeest on the Move
Officials in the southern African nation of Botswana say they are relocating about 1,000 wildebeests from an area where they are coming into contact with livestock and infecting them with a deadly disease.
There is currently no treatment for malignant catarrhal fever spread by the migratory animals, and there have been 74 deaths from it in cattle since March. Helicopters and a team of 40 on the ground will help move the wildebeests to a conservation area away from the affected farms by late July.
The world’s first known manta ray nursery has been discovered in the Gulf of Mexico, solving a mystery that had baffled scientists.
Young mantas are virtually never seen swimming in the world’s oceans, leaving researchers with few clues about their early life.
But a researcher at California’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography worked with NOAA to pinpoint the manta nursery in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, about 120 miles southeast of Houston.
The world-famous wildebeest migration across East Africa is being slowed this year by a bounty of fresh grass left along the route by heavy rains that nourished the Serengeti last year, and again during much of May.
The Tanzania Daily News reports the migration is now nearly two months behind its typical pace, meaning the grazers are going to be considerably delayed in reaching Kenya’s Maasai Mara. The wildebeest crossings of the Grumeti and Mara rivers, typically during July, are popular safari attractions
Wildebeest migration starts very early
Safari experts were astounded by the start of the wildebeest migration in the central areas of the Serengeti last week – three months ahead of schedule.
Usually the migration begins around June or July, but experts believe that unusually dry conditions in the south of the Serengeti has led to the migration starting much earlier than usual.
“It’s one of the earliest sightings on record,” Bradley Murray, general manager of Singita Faru Faru Lodge on the Grumeti River in Tanzania told The Telegraph.
“They started passing through the reserve unexpectedly on May 1 last year and we thought that was a big deal – but this is incredible.”
Murray said that he thought the first wildebeest spotted were just some strays which had broken away from the main herd, but he was astounded when tens of thousands of wildebeest started appearing.
“All you can see is wildebeest at the moment. It is always an awe-inspiring sight but especially as it is so early this year,” he said.
The wildebeest migration sees 1.5 million wildebeest and 200 000 zebras making the almost 2000-kilometre journey from the southern Serengeti to Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
Drought – USA
California’s drought is the worst since 2007 – In the Drought Monitor map released on Nov. 21, one-third of the nation is in moderate or worse drought, with the worst of the drought in the west. Plagued for years with a lack of water, growers across California are now facing a new kind of drought – a labor shortage in the fields
Drought likely to persist or develop in the Southwest, Southeastern U. S. – Winter is likely to offer little relief to the drought-stricken U.S. Southwest, and drought is likely to develop across parts of the Southeast.
Drought in Tanzania
Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest that migrated to the Serengeti plains in Tanzania from Maasai Mara Game Reserve two months ago have returned.
The abnormal occurrence, ecologists say, has been necessitated by a drought that has affected many parts of Tanzania including the Serengeti National Park.
“The drought has forced them to return to Mara where there is enough pasture for them. The grass, which was depleted when they were in the reserve, regenerated after the short rains set in,” said Nick Murero, the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem Co-ordinator for the Lake Victoria Basin.