The Lake Manyara National Park, like the Tarangire National Park, is affected by the migration that takes place within the Tarangire ecosystem; this ecosystem, in addition to the Tarangire and the Manyara Lake, also includes the Lake Natron, the Western part of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Masai Steppe, the Tarangire Conservation Area and some surrounding reserves.
The search for water and food are at the base of these migratory movements and the alternation of the seasons, between dry season and rainy season, marks the rhythm.
The Tarangire River, that is located inside the Tarangire National Park, is a permanent source of water, able to attract, during the dry season, in the months from June to October, a large number of animals, but many of these however, do not leave the Lake Manyara National Park because the food and water sources are available all year round.
While during the green season, from November to May the animals are not forced to stay near the water sources and therefore are free to move within the ecosystem.
In fact, in the Tarangire ecosystem there are 3 migrations:
- The migration of wildebeests and zebras
- The migration of buffaloes, antelopes and gazelles
- The Elephant migration
The rains and their intensity mark the movement of animals within the Tarangire ecosystem, as it also happens in the Serengeti National Park with the Great Migration.
At the end of October we are at the end of the dry season, the animals are concentrated in the Tarangire National Park, but the pastures are exploited by the long stay here by the herbivores in the previous months; the sources of food are scarce, then, if the rains of November are sufficient, the animals begin to leave the park to head elsewhere looking for new pastures.
Also in October, flamingos arrive at the Lake Manyara; from August to October they move to the Lake Natron to reproduce, and then return here.
In November and December in the Lake Manyara National Park there are only the resident animals such as elephants, buffalos, hippos, baboons and some predators including lions and leopards; but the migrators are about to arrive from the Tarangire National Park.
In fact, in the months from January to March in the Lake Manyara National Park some of the animals that have escaped from the Tarangire National Park arrive, but at the same time some animals cross the borders of the Manyara and disperse in the surrounding areas; in these months the rains of November and December have revived the vegetation and filled several pools of water a little everywhere.
In this period there are also a large number of birds in the park, thanks to the presence of the species that migrate here from the Northern hemisphere; also there are flamingos.
Usually in the area of the Lake Manyara the small rains are more important, compared to the Tarangire National Park, and this encourages the animals to move in this area; moreover this is an interesting season since it is the period in which the puppies of the herbivores are born.
Also in the months of April and May the animals, coming from the Tarangire area, continue to arrive in the Lake Manyara National Park, joining the specimens living here all year round, but some animals continue their journey, going beyond the boundaries of the park, venturing in the surrounding areas.
In the Lake Manyara National Park in these months there are also many species of birds, including a large number of flamingos, while migratory birds of the Northern hemisphere have left the park to return to Europe; the vegetation is lush and there are also many flowers.
At the end of May usually the rainy season comes to an end, so in the months of June and July, the vegetation progressively dries up, and the animals begin to return to areas where there are permanent water sources.
Those animals who had left for the surrounding areas return to the Lake Manyara, while many animals move from here to return to the Tarangire; in July the migratory movement should be completed and in the park you can still see giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, elephants as well as herds of buffaloes, hippos, troops of baboons and lions.
In the months from August to October flamingos leave the Lake Manyara and move to the Lake Natron, where they nest; while in the park there are many other species of birds and mammals.
We are at the peak of the dry season and the animals are concentrated at permanent water sources, where they are able to find food as well.