Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wildebeest migration

This world famous migration is a circle of life
which, in simple terms, means that there isn't a
start or an end. Only where the herds are located
at a particular time. The big determinant is the
availability of pastures.   The plains of Ngorongoro
Conservation Area in Serengeti are a favored spot
as grass abounds and the wildebeest find a safe
place to graze. It is also here that over 500,000 new
calves are born and many are taken by the nearby
waiting Jackals or Hyenas.

New borns have little time to strengthen their legs.
As soon after birth, the “pilgrim" continues.

By April, the rains are over in southern Serengeti
and the plains have dried up. The great herds then
gather and face the long march northwards and
westwards. The natural lawn mowers abandon
the exhausted grasslands of southern Serengeti to
head for the already tall grass of the Western
corridor, near the shores of Lake Victoria.

The pioneers of the migration movement are
the majestic herds of zebras. They prefer the long
stems of the coarse grass. This way, they leave behind
shorter grass which is favored by the wildebeests.

In late June to July the mass start pouring into
the Kenya Masai Mara reserve where fresh, tender
and mineral-rich grass is already waiting. Here
they meet the resident Mara populations which
add up to about 150,000. Also commonly referred
to as the Loita plains herds, they spend most of the
season northeast of the Mara. When it gets dry, they
pour into the interior of the Mara in search of greener

The migrating herds spend roughly 3 to 31/2 months
in the Mara crossing through Sand River, which is a
tributary of the Mara along the boundary of Kenya
and Tanzania. They trek westwards and cross the
Mara river and sometimes the Talek river. Usually
around this time heavy rains on the Mau Escarpment
(origin of Mara River) fill the Mara river to the brim.

This is a good time to watch the trunk-looking
Crocodiles, while they await the forthcoming feast.
Finally, the gnus (wildebeests) venture into the river.
This gregarious coordinated behavior of the herds,
usually teamed with zebras, creates an unimaginable scene.
Just what the cameras have been waiting for.

They wander along the river looking for a
convenient crossing point. This is a moment
filled with tension for both the gnus(wildebeests)
and the audience.

They survey for a less steep and with no obvious
danger. Finally, one takes courage and plunges
into the river and magically the rest falls onto
the footsteps and in one organized line cross the river.

In addition to the crocodiles, accidents also occur.
The river’s current can be too strong for some especially
the young ones. Or simply getting stuck between the rocks in
the river and breaking limbs, a direct ticket to the jaws
of the giant crocodiles. Finally, the crossing is done
and the trek to their unknown (or known)  destiny continues.

In the month of October, they are already heading
to Serengeti where the rains have treated the southern
grasslands to lush, green carpet of rich grass. Once
again, they are heading to the southern plains, where
a new generation will be born to start the cycle of
life all over again

 Shared by Peter K. Philip
Kenya luxury safari
Natural Track Safaris

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