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The herds of Ngamo Plains

The herds of Ngamo Plains

Wildebeest on the Ngamo Plains, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Wildebeest on the Ngamo Plains, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Mike Myers, Wilderness Safaris

By Mike Myers, Wilderness Safaris



 Wildebeest are an interesting species, although some guests on safari hardly give them a second look - and there are many clichéd descriptions of their being made up of a series of different animals’ parts!

In areas like the Serengeti where the wildebeest migrate, and in the Liuwa Plains in Zambia where there is a large secondary migration, there is a general increase in their numbers. Wildebeest seem to thrive in large-scale ecosystems with seasonal movement. However, the more sedentary or confined this species is, the more likely it is found that the population size is in long-term decline.

This certainly seems to be the case in Hwange, where conversation with guides who have spent a long time in the Park suggest that numbers have dropped significantly. This is a pity as the sight of large numbers of wildebeest feeding peacefully on the plains and the accompanying sounds they make are a wonderful part of the African landscape.

Seasonally each year though, there is an area in southeast Hwange called the Ngamo Plains, a part of Wilderness Safaris’ Linkwasha Concession, in which this sight can be seen and enjoyed. As the rain falls from November onwards, the Ngamo Plains become a wetland paradise and wildebeest move into the area in significant numbers to feed off the couch grass (Cynodon dactylon), which is abundant there.

Not only are the wildebeest there, but zebra, eland and impala are also present in abundance on the plains. Lion and cheetah are seen regularly, especially in the early mornings, and there is nothing better than parking in one place and taking in all the activity that surrounds one.

As things dry up around April, the wildebeest move off into other areas of the Park and by October there is literally not one to be seen on the dry landscape of the Ngamo Plains. This all changes again within a few days of the next rains starting to fall and the cycle repeats itself.