The Wildebeest Migration, is one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World” and also known as The World Cup of Wildlife. If there is a safari you should go on, this has it be it. The Maasai Mara and the Serengeti National Park together form what no other reserve in Africa can! It is incredible, it is magic, it is indescribable and it is WOW!
No where in the world is there a movement of animals as immense as the wildebeest migration, over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during July through to October.
The migration has to cross the Mara River in the Maasai Mara where crocodiles will prey on them. This is one of the highlights as the animals try and cross the Mara River alive.
In the Maasai Mara they will be hunted, stalked, and run down by the larger carnivores. The Maasai Mara also has one of the largest densities of lion in the world and is no wonder this is the home of the BBC wildlife channels Big Cat Diary.
About The Migration :
The stage on which this show is set is loosely termed the Serengeti Ecosystem, about 40, 000 square kilometres pretty much defined by the dominant migration routes of the white bearded wildebeest (Connochaetes tuarinus mearnsi) and comprises parts of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the south; the Serengeti National Park and the adjacent Maswa Game Reserve and other ‘controlled’ areas in the centre, east and west; and the Maasai Mara National Reserve to the north. The principle players are the wildebeest, whose numbers appear to have settled at just under 1.7 million, with supporting roles from some 400,000 Thomson’s gazelle, 300,000 zebra and 12,000 eland. These are the main migrators and they cross the ranges of over a quarter of a million other resident herbivores and, of course, carnivores. The lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and lesser predators await the annual coming of the migration with eager anticipation.
In reality there is no such single entity as ‘the migration’. The wildebeest are the migration – there is neither start nor finish to their endless search for food and water, as they circle the Serengeti- Mara ecosystem in a relentless sequence of life and death. ‘The only beginning is the moment of birth,’ notes acclaimed East African author and photographer Jonathan Scott, who has spent the better part of the last 30 years chronicling the events of the Serengeti and Maasai Mara. Similarly the only ending is death.
The Crossing :
From the western Serengeti the herds head north, following the rains (or their effects) into Kenya and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. On their trek the wildebeests’ path is cut several times by rivers: in the Serengeti by the Mbalangeti and the Grumeti, and in Kenya by the Mara. For most of the year these rivers are relatively placid, but they can become violent torrents in response to rainfall in their catchments areas, and then they present major obstacles to the progress of the wildebeest.
Closing The Circle :
By late October, when the first of the short rains are falling on the Serengeti’s short-grass plains, filling seasonal waterholes and bringing new flushes of growth, the wildebeest start heading south again. The herds trek down through the eastern woodlands of the Serengeti, some 90 per cent of the cows heavy with the new season’s young. Tightly grouped as they pass through the wooded country the wildebeest scatter and spread out again once they reach the open plains.