Serengeti Migration of the Wildebeest
The migration of wildebeests
The great annual wildebeest migration between Serengeti National Park found in Tanzania and Masai Mara Game Reserve found in Kenya is the most spectacular natural wildlife occurrence on the entire planet. The border of Kenya and Tanzania crosses between these two parks. Nonetheless, there is no physical hedge between the two parks so as to enable free movement of these numerous animals. Every year, these wildebeest migrate in a cycle moving clock-wise traversing about 1800 miles as they look for greener pastures and good water. This migration, brought-about by Mother Nature is quite a lengthy and exhausting journey that actually has no beginning or end. This migration involves more than 1.5 million wildebeest, close to 200,000 zebras, antelopes and gazelles plus the ‘Big Five’ which include elephants, leopards, lion, buffaloes and rhino.
Breeding time –
This occurs starting from December to the month of March and is actually the finest time to tour the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as well as the Southern part of Serengeti. The ripened grass that covers the rolling terrain is perfect dwelling for these wildebeests. During the breeding time more than 80% of the wildebeest population gives birth. This calving season normally ends with a number of risky occurrences especially attacks from predators. During this time, the big cats take advantage of the rich abundance of food and frequently set out hunting. Among them are lions, cheetahs, hyenas and leopards. Many calves are hunted and killed by these predators whereas the weak ones die along the long tiring the pilgrimage. For those interested in photography, you can get some shot of the predators chasing or catching their prey.
By the finish of March, what is remaining of the pastures can barely sustain the large number of wildebeest. As a result, the wildebeest migrate to adjacent Serengeti-western-corridor. There, these animals graze on the long full-grown green grass as well as the woodlands in the vicinity from April all through to May. It is during this period that the East African region receives heavy rains and the roads are in very poor condition making it very impossible to have any tourist activity in the area.
The wildebeests’ mating period begins in the month of May to the start of June. And as the month of June comes to an end, most of the green grass has been eaten up by the animals. This forces the animals to move further to the northern part of the Serengeti. Along the way, several are hunted and killed by the resident predators whereas others as they cross river Grumeti are fiercely attacked by gigantic crocodiles
The wildebeest move on further and cross the border of Tanzania with Kenya. However through this voyage, the largest challenge to this big herd is crossing River Mara. As the animals cross the deadly Mara River to avoid starving, it is such a dramatic event and very ideal for those interested in taking some photographs, capturing films or making documentaries. From time to time, the animals may decide to cross where the river is somewhat shallow and that way most of the wildebeest can destined Mara plains. The other times these animals may opt to cross through the deeper end of the river and this results into hundreds of wildebeests drowning. Majority of the animals that fall victim to drowning are the old ones, the weak as well as the calves. Several are also killed by the hippopotami and crocodiles which eagerly await them by the bank of the river.
On arrival in the Mara plains, the wildebeest spread out all over the plains to graze on the green pastures. By the month of November, there are hardly any pastures remaining to sustain these wildebeests, antelopes, zebra and gazelle as well as any other herbivorous. This is the beginning of the short Serengeti rains meaning that there are sufficient pastures for the animals to graze there. So the journey starts back to the large Serengeti Conservation Area and there the calving period begins. This yearly wildebeest migration is a very natural occurrence so its timing differs year after year, from month to month.
What inspires the long trail taken by these Wildebeests?
The excitement and fright in this annual wildebeest as well as zebra and gazelle migration from the Serengeti to the Maasai Mara is the determination and eagerness of these animals to triumph over crossing the river. The certainty is that these animals will ultimately cross. The wildebeests together with the other animals have to in order to avoid starving. Amazing about the wildebeests’ composition, is an inborn urge much stronger than that of self-protection that pushes them to go on. The instinct to move on to fresh pastures is more deeply embedded in wildebeests than the unthinkable terrors involved in crossing the Mara River. to conclude the front-runners of this herd give way to the much pressure coming from behind, this results into the sudden tumbling over each another of the wildebeests as they strive to reach river Mara and get to the fresh pastures across.
How to get there
Safaris to watch the renowned Wildebeest migration can be arranged through your tour-operator or safari company. This great safari will generally involve an overnight in one of the numerous hotels in Nairobi. Then travel to a lodge in the Maasai Mara which journey may be approximated to 4 hours by road or 30 minutes by air. Your tour-operator will do all the necessary arrangements on your behalf so there is no need to worry at all. However it is advised to book at least three months in advance so as to get your ideal accommodation and service delivery.