The Rut – Serengeti’s Season of Courtship 

Dry Season Drama

The rutting season is an exciting time of year. During the Rut, the male wildebeest compete for the attention of females. The Wildebeest Rut, from May to July during the dry season, is characterised by dramatic displays of aggression, posturing, and vocalisation – all of which can be witnessed from our Esirai Mobile Camp that we set up in the region for guests to witness these antics.

Passionate Posing and Staking Their Claim

Image Credit: Dori Caspi

Bulls begin to establish territories in areas with high concentrations of females. First, they mark their territory by digging shallow pits, urinating and rubbing their scent glands on trees and bushes. To defend their territory from other bulls – and to attract attention from the Wildebeest cows, they engage in displays involving various postures and vocalisations. For example, bulls stand sideways, puff out their chests and lower their heads while grunting and bellowing. They also engage in shoving matches or lock horns with rivals to show their strength.


Critical Courtships for Herd Survival

Image Credit: Hagai Zvulun

The cows are attracted to these displays and visit the territories of multiple bulls before choosing a suitable mate. Once a cow has selected a mate, the pair will engage in a courtship of sniffing, nuzzling and licking. The Rut is a critical time for the Wildebeest. It is when most of the mating occurs and the resultant calving is essential for sustaining herd strength.


Risking it All for a Mate

Image Credit: Dori Caspi

Despite the excitement of the Wildebeest Rut, it is not without risks. The intense competition among males can lead to injuries or death, and the constant posturing and displays can be exhausting for the animals.


The Rut also attracts predators such as lions and hyenas hoping to prey on a vulnerable Wildebeest who has become weakened through exhaustion or distracted through their displays in the drive to mate.


Witness This Spectacle From Esirai Mobile Camp

Image Credit: Hagai Zvulun

Esirai, Entara’s mobile migration camp, balances intimate comfort and a light environmental footprint and is specially designed to be moved with the seasons. The camp allows guests to stay in unique and secluded areas to follow the Great Migration from the south of the Serengeti all the way north to the Mara River Valley. 


This camp is the perfect base from which to witness key events in the Serengeti and Great Migration story: the famed river crossings up north and the Rutting and Calving seasons during the quieter period down south. 


The Wildebeest Rut is a Unique Natural Event

Image Credit: Dori Caspi

Overall, the Wildebeest Rut is an exciting and essential part of the Serengeti ecosystem. A time of intense competition, courtship and predatory danger, it is a spectacle that draws visitors from around the world and serves as a reminder of our natural world’s incredible diversity and beauty, and Esirai Mobile Camp is the perfect way to experience it.

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