The Great Wildebeest Migration
The Great Wildebeest migration is surely one of the greatest spectacular wonders in the adventure world. Watching over 2 million wildebeest, zebras and Gazelles migrate through Serengeti and Maasai Mara in search of greener pastures is one of the new seven greatest wonders of the travel world.
The great wildebeest migration is the annual migration of giant herds of grazers across northern Tanzania and Kenya. They move in a circular motion (clockwise) around Serengeti national park.
- So someone may ask why these animals migrate.
The sole purpose is that these animals do migrate following the rainfall. For their calving in December –March they always begin their cycle in the southern Serengeti national park around Ndutu and follow wherever the grass is greener. The migration depends on where the rain falls.
This event is rarely in the Maasai Mara national park Kenya and the heard only venture there as an extension of their grazing land in the northern point of Tanzania if they need fresh pastures.
You can only find the wildebeest migration within Kenya within a few months of the year when heading towards the border and even by this time the animals are still in the northern parts of the Serengeti.
The journey is always tough for these animals because it claims many lives of animals due to many dangerous predators such as lions, cheetahs, and crocodiles when crossing the river.
When also struggling to cross some fail and are swept away by the water and even animals kill themselves when trying to cross. Around 250,000 wildebeests and 30,000 zebras die as a result of predation, thirst, hunger, and exhaustion.
The best time to spot these giant animals.
July – October is when the wildebeests are in the Northern Serengeti plains and you will have a chance of seeing up to thousands crossing the great Mara River and the crossing is so dramatic and considered by many as the most desirable time to watch on a trip.
Also, the dry seasons of June and July are the best months to see the wildebeest migration in the western parts of the Serengeti and august to September in the northern parts of Serengeti. Here animals are easier to spot since they concentrate around waterholes and rivers and also the vegetation is less thick.
- Where is the best place to see the wildebeest migration?
There are many different points to watch this mass migration of the wildebeest and all the drama it entails, but the most recommended points are; Mara River, the plains of the Maasai Mara national park, and the Ndutu plains of Tanzania’s Serengeti.
- Why are there so many wildebeests?
The animals are favored by climate and soils. This is due to higher levels of phosphorous and nitrogen which changes the response to the rains.
Soils of Serengeti are extremely fertile which favors short grass most especially between Maswa and Piyaya. This is because of the rift valley volcanoes then Lake Victoria gives Serengeti much higher rainfall. This provides high-quality grazing every month of the year.
- Why do zebras travel with wildebeests?
You might be wondering why zebras and wildebeests love to hang out together but the reason is that zebras and wildebeest graze on different parts of the same type of grass. Zebras love to eat the taller grass and wildebeest the shorter grass.
There is no competition regarding food. Also, wildebeest have a better sense of hearing while zebras can see very well which helps them to alarm for danger. Another big reason is that they are always safe in big numbers against predators.
Why the migration of these animals is seen as a chaotic frenzy movement, research has shown a heard of wildebeest possess swarm intelligence where they systematically explore and overcome an obstacle as one. They use their powerful hooves designed to allow them to go through rugged terrain and use their curved horns for protection against any danger.