In complete contrast to the last few years we had rain that has not been seen since the last El Niņo in 1998. Often very dramatic storms only lasting an hour but dropping over 100mm of rain.
The plains turned a vivid green and became full of life in all shapes and sizes. The gnus and zebras were spoilt for choice of grazing and spread out across the Serengeti. Interestingly calving was about a month late with the bulk of the 300,000 gnu calves dropping in late February and early March. European and Abdim storks arrived in their 1000's to take advantage of all the insect life and the predators were as fat as ever!
By April the weather had completely settled and the flowers carpeted the plains and woodland putting on a display not seen for years. It made a stunning backdrop for every wildlife encounter.
Maybe it was the weather or something in the grass? Animal behaviour these past few months has been very unusual. We sat on the end of Lake Ndutu in the Serengeti watching 3 gnus walking straight through the lake towards a lioness waiting patiently on the edge. We were in a wonderful position behind the lioness poised to watch an incredible piece of action. The gnus kept coming; the lioness lay as flat as a doormat. When the lead gnu was within range the lioness charged off in pursuit of it prey — the kill was inevitable. Then to our complete surprise the gnu stopped, turned towards the stunned lioness and charged her! Confused by this role reversal the lioness run off, and then decided something wasn't quite right so stormed back towards the gnu — chaos. The gnu not to be out down rushed back towards the lioness and eventually chased it off and survived to the tale. Unbelievable!
Another huge highlight has been the continued viewing of African Hunting Dogs in the Gol Mountains. The initial group of 18 has split into 2 groups. 12 of which have been seen frequently between Nasera rock and Piaya and the other 6 further east. When I left the group of 12 in late April the alpha female was looking very pregnant so with luck they should be dening very soon? A wonderful comeback for the dogs that were last seen in this are about 18 years ago!
More interesting behaviour of the bird kind just before Mothers Day! Over a period of 5 days we watched a Giant Eagle Owl youngster sit in a tree and cry out in abandonment for Mum and Dad who were sitting a few trees away completely ignoring these plaintive calls. As it was the onset of the next breeding season Mum and dad wanted the youngster to move and to rub salt into the wound were seen mating to reinforce the point!!
The rut of the gnus is now in full swing and we expect the main migration to start heading west very soon with the onset of the dry season. We'll also move camps west following the herds as well as venturing south to Ruaha, Katavi and Mahale to make the most of the fantastic game viewing in the dry season.