The Great Wildebeest Migration
The wildebeest migration is one of East Africa’s great wildlife wonders where millions and thousands of animals including the wildebeest, Gazelles and zebras move in a circular migration in the open plains of the Masai Mara and Serengeti Ecosystems looking for fresh pastures to feed on a migration.
The migration takes several months and is combined with a number of natural phenomena including reproduction where many are born during the course of the journey while others are feasted on by the ecosystems great predators. This most times creates an ecosystem wildlife balance and is one of the reason why this great animal migration is among the world’s natural wonders.
The wildebeest migration is an amazingly circular journey throughout the Serengeti national park in northern Tanzania, the Masai Mara game reserve across the border in southern Kenya, the edge of the Ngoro Ngoro Crater in Tanzania as the cycle continues. This natural trek attracts a number of tourists who usually visit Kenya’s Masai Mara Game reserve and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and the Ngoro Ngoro crater areas where they get a chance to witness this amazing wildlife experience while on game drives along the major wildebeest tracks.
It should be noted that during the wildebeest migration, an estimated 1.5 millions wildebeest, over 200,000 zebras and over 350,000 gazelles plus other hoofed animals take park in the wildlife trek and up to now its not clearly known how these herbivores know which direction to take up north though some believe that they are guided the animals response to weather including rain and lightening and the growth of new pastures.
What’s more amazing about the grazers of the Serengeti and Mara ecosystems is that they have various eating habits while on their great wildlife trek. The first grazer group feeds on the top to the middle of the tallest grasses followed by the grazer group that feeds on from the middle height grass till the pasture is about to be completely finished and then they continue with the course of the journey looking for fresh pasture a journey that attracts some of the lands deadliest predators including the big cats like Lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and also the large Crocodiles along the major rivers in the ecosystem readily await to take down their prey.
This annual animal migration has no defined start or ending but can be categorized by months depending on the animal movements and characteristics at that particular time. During the early months of the year that are January, February and March its when most births take place where in just a period of about three weeks over 400,000 calves are born. At this time of the year the animals occupy and move along the edge of Serengeti National park moving towards the Ngoro Ngoro crater and around the Olduvai gorge area all in Tanzania.
This area has massive lands covered with pastures and usually great places for the mother animals to raise the calves. Some people actually consider the births as the start of the wildebeest migration as in the process the young ones if not eaten by the predators also join the massive journey and by the end of the year when the animals are back in Serengeti and the Ngoro Ngoro area there are new births and the cycle continues.
With the over 400,000 herbivore births, there are usually a number of predators in the area that usually hunt down the young ones with ease and even take down the old ones as well as long as they can manage the attack. The tourists interested in seeing the births and calving can consider visiting southern Tanzania in these early months of the year. During the first quarter of the year that are the months of April and May, the animals move steadily towards central Serengeti that at that time has fresh pastures a key attraction of the grazers.
Central Serengeti national park also has other herbivores like gazelles and zebras that are integrated in the wildebeest crowds naturally and during this time the mating season begins where the male contenders battle for the females. The migration still continues towards western Serengeti when the Month of June and July set in with a dry season and the herbivores on their trek northwards are challenged with having to cross Grumeti River that has many crocodiles that early await for prey.
This river crossing provides spectacular views as the animals fight for their way to continue with the journey north of Serengeti towards the border and then cross over to Kenya’s’ Masai Mara where they have to cross the Mara River that is even more deadlier with many crocodiles. By the end of July the many animals are usually in the Masai Mara region and more continue with the challenge of crossing the Mara River. In the months of August and September they spread more over the Masai Mara region feeding on the fresh pastures here as some more that initially remained in the northern Serengeti parts also keep crossing over a process where many are eaten by the predators.
The animal crowds continue to move eastwards of the Mara plains during the months of September to October where they are challenged again with the Mara River crossing on their quest southwards. When November and December sets in, the animals spread over Eastern Serengeti and then further south where at this time the pastures are usually lush attracting many of these herbivores. While here, as the first months of the year sets in, the calving process begin once again and the cycle continues.
While on your journey to destination East Africa and are very much interested in this incredible wildlife Safari experience that also features big five animals, you can choose to visit Kenya or Visit Tanzania depending on the time of the year you plan to come. The East African countries of Kenya and Tanzania apart from the wildebeest migration have other tourist safari attractions that can be explored in the countries’ major national parks.
In case you also want beach holidays then you can add them as a supplementary to the wildebeest migration tours where you can later visit Zanzibar islands or the coastal beaches of Diani, Malindi, Dar es salaam or Watamu that have pure white sands and you can get to enjoy marine wildlife experiences seeing water animals like dolphins, whales, sharks, sea turtles, features like coral reefs and many other outstanding attractions.