There are so many places around the world that one can experience magical moments in wildlife. None of these places beats the great wildebeest migration in East Africa.
The Great Wildebeest Migration
The world’s greatest wildlife spectacle takes place in the East Africa plains. More than 1.5 million wildebeest together with thousands of gazelles, eland and zebras migrate from the Serengeti plains in Tanzania to the plains of Maasai Mara in Kenya. They migrate in a clockwise manner covering over 1800 miles every year in search of water and greener pastures. The great wildebeest migration has been branded as one of the many wonders of the world. This is because nowhere in the world is there such an immense movement of animals taking place at the same time. Tens of thousands of animals gather at the Mara River waiting to cross.
They stay around the river for days until wildebeests finally choose a crossing point. The migrating animals have to cross the Mara River which is infested with crocodiles. This is usually one of the highlights as the animals strive to cross the river without being eaten by the killer crocodiles. The Mara river also overflows at this time of the year making in quite challenging for the animals to cross. In Maasai Mara the wildebeest are prayed on by the large carnivores like the lions, hyenas, cheetahs and other predators.
The wildebeest search for food and water is endless as they circle the Serengeti and the Mara ecosystem. They follow this sequence throughout their entire lives. The migration is almost predictable and the best time to view the wildebeest migration is between June and October but no two years are quite the same. The movement is greatly influenced by environmental change. There are four seasons in the year around the Mara Serengeti area. The short dry season is between December, February and March. The season of the long rains occurs between March and May. The long dry season occurs between June and September. There are short rains between October and November.
Towards the short dry season the grass begins to dry up south of the Serengeti, and the wildebeest start to migrate towards Kenya. They follow rains and growing grass and their search for water leads them to three lakes around Olduvai. The animals feed on the short grass and scatter along the vast plains. When they finally end up on the western side of the Serengeti, the animals follow the rains into the Maasai Mara game reserve. The short rains in late October bring new flushes of growth and fill the dry water holes. This influences the Great wildebeest migration towards the Serengeti.