The Great Wildebeest Migration

If you’re a nature enthusiast and wildlife conservationist, the season is here with us again… the most excellent show of all times; a fascinating and dramatic movement of about half a million wildebeests from the drier lands of Serengeti, Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya. The natural phenomenon attracts millions of both local and international tourists, and it’s one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World” also known as The World Cup of Wildlife. It’s a beautiful experience for those looking to Tembea Kenya.

If there is a safari, you can’t afford to miss this has to be it! Masai Mara and the Serengeti Park together form what no other national park or reserve in Africa and even the world can! It is unbelievable, fairylike, indescribable and a must-see!

The Migration stages

There’s no place in the world where there such a powerful and dramatic movement of wildebeest (also referred to as gnu) and other animals on an adventurous transition, cross the Mara River and are backed up by a fascinating backdrop of splendid green Savannah grassland.  This wildlife phenomenon stands out as a sheer spectacle and Mother nature’s most stunning show. The warlike scenes, clouds of dust, the thrilling rush and picturesque moments are worth every penny.

It’s no wonder people run out of adjectives watching this Magnifique and great migration!

Over three million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during July through to October.

For a better understanding of the migration, we have to start from the beginning.  So, in January and February, the wildebeest cows drop their offspring in a synchronized birthing that sees some 300,000 to 500,000 calves born within two to three weeks of one another, eight and a half months after they go through their rut.

Towards the end of the short dry season, which is around March, the short-grass plains of the southern sides of the Serengeti begin to dry out and the wildebeest start (or carry on) their journey, moving towards the western woodlands of Kenya.

How do they know which way to go, you ask?

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Well, according to some geologists, there are at least two possible answers, and one is that their journey is dictated mainly by their response to the weather; they follow the rains and the springing up of the new grass. Moreover, even though there’s no scientific proof that it’s true, it looks as if that they, and other animals, respond to lightning and thunderstorms in the distance.

As the rains set in, the herds then head north-west past the granite outcrops and into the woodlands. This is heavily influenced by the state of the moon, with the full moon in May/June is a top bet for anyone seeking the up-close action.

From the western Serengeti, the wonders of nature then head north, following the rains (or their effects) into Kenya and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. As they journey towards serenity and pasture, the animals which not only includes the wildebeests but also zebras and antelopes’ path is cut several times by rivers: in the Serengeti by the Mbalangeti and the Grumeti, and in Kenya by the Mara. For the most prolonged period of the year, these rivers are relatively placid, and then they present some extreme obstacles to the progress of the wildebeest.

There are predators like crocodiles which prey on them, and some lives are lost on the way. This is one of the biggest highlights as the animals try and cross the Mara River alive! It would help if you didn’t also forget that certain predators tag along in the migration and these heaven-sent animals have to navigate through these shackles of hell. There are the leopards – the famous Mr. Military camouflage, and the cheetahs – the race track rulers, that get attracted to this “rhythm of a feast” and prey on the unsuspecting few. The silver-backed jackal, and the maniacal spotted hyena “the true garbage-man of the wild” that lurk in the shadows, anxiously waiting for their meaty fill, and the ruthless vultures that wait to clean up after the party. It’s a survival for the fittest here peeps!

However, despite the goring sites, the wildebeest migration is an event you cannot miss. So get your cameras ready and wake up the wildlife photographer in you because this is too fascinating to resist!

Did You Know:

While the migration might be one of the most chaotic frenzies of movement, research has proven that a herd of wildebeest possess a ‘swarm intelligence,’ where they systematically explore and overcome an obstacle as one. Moreover, the primary reason why zebras and wildebeest graze in harmony together is since they each eat different parts of the same type of grass!

 

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