The Great Wildebeest Migration
What is the Great Migration?
It is the largest herd movement of animals on the planet. In fact, with up to 1000 animals per km square, it can be seen from space. The numbers are astonishing: over 1,2 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebra along with topi and other gazelle move in a constant cycle through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in search of nutritious grass and water. Guided by survival instinct, each wildebeest will cover 800 to 1000km on its individual journey along age-old migration routes. Hungry predators – lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, wild dog and crocs – make sure only the strongest survive.
The annual Wildebeest Migration is a drama in two acts: the arresting dash for freedom as the herds swarm across the Mara and other rivers in the north – braving enormous Nile crocodiles, lion, hyena, cheetah and leopard – in search of water and new grazing, followed by the remarkable months of calving in the lush grasslands of the south. The Great Migration can also be split up into two main parts; the Serengeti Migration as well as the Maasai Mara Migration.
It is thought that rainfall over 50km away can trigger the start of the mass movement – perhaps through smell or the recognition of thunder and lightning on the horizon. The circuit takes the animals from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the south of the Serengeti in Tanzania, up through the Serengeti and across into the Maasai Mara, and back again. The journey is beset with danger: young calves are snatched by predators; the slow are brought down by prides of lion, brave beasts break legs on steep river slopes, crocodiles take their share of the stragglers, while the weak and exhausted drown.