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    What and when is calving season during the Great Wildebeest Migration

    12 minutes read
    Tanzania- calving seasons Easy Travel Tanzania
    calving seasons Easy Travel Tanzania

    East Africa’s greatest gift to the world is its great national parks and resident wildlife that move together in mega herds, especially during calving season.

    The land in Tanzania is an especially beautiful safari destination, offering superb game drives during the dry season and the rainy season.

    Perhaps one of the most well-known safari experiences in East Africa is The Great Wildebeest Migration. In this natural phenomenon, millions of wildebeest move in a circular fashion in search of fresh grass plains and drinking water. If you’re interested in learning how these herds of wildebeest navigate the land and where they migrate to, you can speak to a safari Migration expert at Easy Travel or read one of our in-depth blogs.

    Today, however, we are going to discuss one of the pinnacle moments in The Wildebeest Migration, where hundreds of thousands of wildebeest new-born calves are born together. This spectacle of an event is called The Calving Season, a breathtaking moment to witness on your next African safari.

    Understanding the Calving Season in the Great Wildebeest Migration

    The calving season during the Great Wildebeest Migration is a fascinating period where nature’s circle of life plays out in the expansive plains of Serengeti. This spectacle occurs annually between late January and mid-March when nearly half a million wildebeest calves are born.

    Such a mass birthing phenomenon is a unique feature of the calving season. During this time, wildebeest herds congregate on the nutrient-rich plains of southern Serengeti to give their offspring the best possible start in life.

    With increased numbers equating to a higher chance of survival for individuals, witnessing this spectacle of nature is a truly remarkable sight. Though brutal in parts, this migration phase is an integral aspect of the broader wildebeest lifecycle.

    Timing of the Calving Season: When to Witness the Phenomenon

    The calving season traditionally stretches from late January to mid-March, with most births occurring within a 2-3 week window in February. This is when the plains of the southern Serengeti and the western part of Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania are teeming with wildebeest and newborn calves.

    While there are no guarantees about precise timing, visiting during these months will offer the best chances to see the wildebeest calving. The calves are often born at midday, providing an incredible display of nature.

    Hence, timing your safari during this period, ensuring a careful selection of location and expert guides, can accentuate the overall experience.

    The importance of the Calving Season in the Wildebeest life cycle

    The calving season is a crucial part of the wildebeest life cycle. As the cycle repeats annually, it’s more than just a chronicle of birth – it’s a fight for survival, unveiling the harsh realities of life on the African plains. The newborns are immediately thrown into a world of challenges where predators are on high alert for easy prey.

    However, wildebeests use a survival strategy by synchronizing the birth of their calves, overwhelming predators, and ensuring that a higher percentage of calves survive to adulthood. This testament to the resilience of nature is part of what makes the calving season a must-see event.

    What to expect during the Wildebeest Calving Season

    Wildebeest calving season is an event filled with awe and high drama. Over two to three weeks, most female wildebeests give birth almost simultaneously, resulting in an influx of hundreds of thousands of newborns.

    The spectacle of seeing the young ones take their first steps, learning to run within minutes, to evade predators is nothing short of miraculous. Additionally, predator activity increases during calving season, resulting in frequent sightings of lions, hyenas, and cheetahs.

    Despite its unpredictable nature, one thing is guaranteed—a visit during the calving season will offer sights and sounds you’ll carry in your heart for a lifetime.

    Best Practices for the Calving Season during the Great Wildebeest Migration

    When planning your safari to coincide with the calving season, it’s essential to consider a few key factors. Timing is crucial, and while it’s impossible to predict Mother Nature precisely, the period from late January to mid-March typically provides the best opportunity to witness this natural event.

    Choosing accommodations that offer easy access to the Southern Serengeti has its advantages. A reputable, experienced guide enriches your understanding and enhances your migration experience. 

    Plan for long game drives to witness the spectacle fully, including predator-prey interactions. Your safari during the calving season of the Great Wildebeest Migration promises to be a remarkable journey.

    Calving season: What and when is it?

    Calving season

    The Wildebeest Calving Season is one of the most popular times to visit Tanzania. This is when vast herds of wildebeest give birth to wildebeest calves in the southern Serengeti. 

    The calving season usually takes place between late January and early February, but it can start as early as December and last until March. Below, we will discuss the dates and why it is such a spectacular time of year to experience Tanzania.

    What is the great wildebeest migration calving season?

    Tanzania - what is the great wildebeest calving season - what and when is calving season during the great wildebeest migration

    During The Great Wildebeest Migration, the annual migration takes a standstill in Tanzania, where hundreds of thousands of pregnant wildebeest give birth during the first few months of the year. The event occurs during the green season, and it is a spectacular time to go on a migration safari.

    Easy Travel offers the memorable Wildebeest Calving Season Safari, where you and a professional safari guide will witness the event up close. When you’re on a game reserve with abundant wildlife, it’s essential to have a safari guide to keep you safe and informed about the land and its animals.

    During the Tanzania safari in the Serengeti National Park, you get a front-row seat to the wildebeest calving season. Predators prowl as new life begins across the savannah, aiming to snatch up the newborns. 

    Witnessing the herds fiercely protect their calves against the backdrop of this stunning park turns your safari into an unforgettable encounter with the circle of life. Game viewing during this birthing season is an exceptional experience, so if it excites you, consider contacting our professional safari migration experts to start planning your dream safari experience.

    When is the great wildebeest migration calving season?

    Tanzania - when is the great wildebeest calving season. Jpg - what and when is calving season during the great wildebeest migration

    The Great Wildebeest Migration does not necessarily have a beginning and an end as the herds move across the endless plains in a clockwise direction in search of fresh food and water. Nature has no ruler, as they say, and so it’s not possible to give exact dates when the next calving season will occur.

    However, the annual calving season typically occurs during January and February, so book for these months to see a wildebeest calf. Be aware that the beginning of January is considered the peak safari season in Tanzania.

    During peak safari season, the cost of safari lodges is at its highest, so if you’re coming on a budget, consider booking for later in the month. If peak season crowds are a deal-breaker for you, let our safari migration experts know when you’d like to visit Tanzania to witness the herds on their onward journey.

    Where is the great wildebeest migration in January and February?

    Tanzania - great wildebeest migration in january - what and when is calving season during the great wildebeest migration

    The calving season mainly occurs in Serengeti National Park, but the herds stretch into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Ndutu during this event, too. These are the most famous areas in Tanzania, as they offer outstanding wildlife experiences.

    The concentration of wildlife is remarkably breathtaking during the calving season, where you can witness hundreds of thousands of newborn calves on a morning game drive.

    Other options for the great wildebeest migration

    Tanzania - option for greet wildebeest migration - what and when is calving season during the great wildebeest migration

    1. Mara River crossing: Panoramic view of predator action

    If you’re looking for a time when the herds of wildebeest are faced with a concentration of predators, then going on a safari to the Mara River from July to August is a fantastic option. During this time, you will witness thousands of wildebeest attempts to cross crocodile-infested waters and face hungry land predators on the other side.

    Thousands will attempt to cross the river banks for days, and thousands more will perish. On a calving season migration safari, you’ll have the extraordinary opportunity to witness over a million wildebeests bring new life into their herds. 

    It is a breathtaking and memorable experience. Around this time, you may also see the wildebeest calving.

    Other options for a safari in Tanzania

    Tanzania - options for safari in tanzania - what and when is calving season during the great wildebeest migration

    1. Mount Kilimanjaro: Africa's highest peak

    Tanzania - africa highest peak - what and when is calving season during the great wildebeest migration

    Fancy landing at Kilimanjaro International Airport and conquering the tallest freestanding mountain in the world? Please read all about Mount Kilimanjaro here, or contact our Kilimanjaro experts to find out more.

    2. Zanzibar: Beach paradise in Tanzania

    Tanzania - beach paradise in tanzania - what and when is calving season during the great wildebeest migration

    The annual wildebeest migration is a memorable experience that never loses its magic. Calving season is the event with the most significant concentration of wildebeest in the world, where baby wildebeest will be running around in the Serengeti National Park before heading off to the historic crossing of the Mara River.

    If you’d like to know more about The Great Wildebeest Migration, read up here or get in contact with Easy Travel today.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What is the Great Wildebeest Migration?

    The Great Migration is an annual migration of over a million wildebeest, accompanied by large numbers of zebras and gazelles, in search of fresh grazing. It’s an incredible spectacle within the Serengeti and the Masai Mara ecosystems. 

    The exact timing varies each year, but the migration typically begins mid-year when the Serengeti grasslands start to dry out. The highlight is the crossing of the Grumeti and Mara rivers, fraught with danger from predators and strong currents.

    2. When does the calving season during the Great Wildebeest Migration occur?

    The calving season occurs between late January and mid-March, with most births happening within a 2-3 week window in February. During this period, hundreds of thousands of newborn wildebeest fill the plains of the southern Serengeti and the western Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. 

    Timing can vary based on rainfall patterns and grass availability, which is critical for mothers and newborns. While trends can give a typical period, exact timings can’t be guaranteed due to the influence of nature.

    3. What exactly is the calving season?

    The calving season is a period during the Great Wildebeest Migration where approximately 500,000 wildebeest calves are born almost simultaneously. The synchronized births are a survival mechanism, overwhelming predators and increasing the chance of survival for the individual calves. 

    It is a noteworthy event, filled with high drama and tension, and it gives visitors an unforgettable wildlife viewing experience. The spectacle of watching a new life start amidst the struggles of survival in the African savannah is unique.

    4. How many wildebeest calves are born during the calving season?

    During the calving season, nearly half a million wildebeest calves are born. This mass birthing event occurs over a short 2-3 week period, traditionally in February. 

    Several factors, such as rainfall and the availability of nutritious grass for pregnant wildbeests, can influence the number of births. It is a significant event in the annual life cycle of the wildebeest, and witnessing the calving season is an essential highlight for any safari-goer.

    5. Why do all the wildebeest give birth around the same time?

    Wildebeests give birth simultaneously as a survival strategy, resulting in vast herds of young wildebeest overwhelming predators who cannot possibly eat all the calves. This “safety in numbers” approach ensures a higher survival rate for newborns amid the harsh realities of life on the African plains.

    The synchrony in birth timing also allows the wildebeest herds to continue migrating across the Serengeti plains, preventing them from being too spread out. Hence, the synchrony in birth increases survival rates and ensures the successful continuation of the Great Wildebeest Migration.

    6. What should visitors expect to see during the calving season?

    During the calving season, visitors can expect to witness hundreds of thousands of newborns taking their first steps and learning to run within minutes. The plains are teeming with wildebeests, providing an opportunity for dramatic predator-prey interactions. 

    The increased presence of predators, such as lions, hyenas, and cheetahs, heighten the drama. It’s a time of high tension, unmatched wildlife viewing, and spectacular photographic opportunities.

    7. Where is the best place to witness the calving season of the Great Wildebeest Migration?

    The best place to witness the calving season is in the southern plains of the Serengeti and the western part of the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. These areas have nutrient-rich grasslands, providing the necessary sustenance for the pregnant wildebeests and the newborn calves. 

    The highest concentration of births occurs here due to the availability of high-quality grazing. Researchers and experienced safari guides usually have good knowledge of the movement patterns to facilitate the best viewing experiences.

    8. Is it safe to visit during the calving season?

    Yes, it is safe to visit during the calving season. However, it’s essential to remember that you are in the wild, and unpredictable events can occur. 

    Guides and operators are trained to handle situations and keep visitors safe, but it’s also essential for visitors to respect the wild animals’ space and follow the safety guidelines. A safari trip with reputable tour operators ensures that safety standards are strictly followed during game drives.

    9. What other wildlife can be seen during the calving season?

    While the wildebeest are the stars of the calving season, visitors can see various other wildlife. Predators such as lions, cheetahs, and hyenas are often more visible as they take advantage of the abundance of easy prey. 

    Other herbivores like zebras, gazelles, and impalas can also be seen in the area, often joining the wildebeest herds in search of fresh grazing. The calving season truly brings the Serengeti ecosystem to life.

    10. How can I best prepare for a trip to see the calving season during the Great Wildebeest Migration?

    Proper preparation is essential for maximizing your safari experience—research and book with a reputable safari operator to ensure safety and knowledgeable guidance. 

    Bring appropriate clothing for the season and region, and remember that temperatures can vary widely from day to night. Remember binoculars for the best viewing and a quality camera for capturing those unforgettable moments. 

    Lastly, respect the wildlife and always follow your guide’s instructions.

    11. How long should I plan my safari to witness the calving season?

    Witnessing the calving season doesn’t necessarily require a long safari. However, increasing your time in the field can offer more opportunities to observe this incredible spectacle. 

    A week to ten-day safari allows ample time to experience the calving season and explore other Serengeti regions. Remember, the animals are wild, and their behavior is unpredictable, so longer stays increase your chances of viewing the spectacle.

    12. Can I photograph the wildebeest during the calving season?

    Photographing the wildebeest during the calving season is allowed and provides incredible opportunities for wildlife photography. However, it’s essential to maintain respectful distances and not disturb the wildlife. 

    Use a good zoom lens to capture stunning close-ups while keeping a safe distance. Remember that lighting conditions can change quickly and be dusty, so protecting your camera equipment is crucial.

    13. Is the Great Wildebeest Migration visible all year round?

    The Great Wildebeest Migration is a year-round event, but the movement of the herds varies throughout the year depending on the availability of grass for grazing. The migration follows a relatively predictable circular pattern, but exact timings and locations can vary based on rainfall and grass growth. 

    Regardless of the time of year, witnessing the migration is remarkable, with each season offering unique viewing opportunities.

    14. Do I need a guide to witness the calving season during the Great Wildebeest Migration?

    Yes, having a guide enhances the safari experience immensely. Guides are knowledgeable about animal behavior and movement patterns, and they can navigate to the best locations for viewing the calving. 

    They can interpret animal behavior, help identify species, and answer your questions. Furthermore, they ensure your safety during game drives, making the safari experience enjoyable and informative.

    15. What is the best way to book a safari to witness the calving season during the Great Wildebeest Migration?

    The best way to book a safari is through a reputable tourism operator specializing in safaris. They can advise on the best times to visit and where to stay and tailor the safari based on your interests. 

    Utilize reviews and ratings to choose a reliable operator. Planning and booking, particularly during the calving season, are advisable as it is a popular time to visit.

    Musaddiq Gulamhussein - Owner - Easy Travel Tanzania

    About the author: Musaddiq

    Meet Musaddiq Gulamhussein, owner of Easy Travel Tanzania, a tour company creating life-changing safari experiences for over 35 years. Musaddiq has explored Tanzania, developing a deep understanding of the local cultures and traditions. Follow his journey and gain insights into the African Safari experience through Easy Travel's social media and blog.

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