The Great Wildebeest Migration

Africa’s annual Great Wildebeest Migration is the world’s largest overland animal migration. This spectacular phenomenon occurs when approximately two million wildebeest, zebra and other indigenous antelope undertake an incredible journey across the African plains, from Tanzanias beautiful Serengeti to the world-renowned Masai Mara in Kenya.

The Migration does not just consist of one large herd, but rather thousands of smaller ones that branch in and out of the main bulk, depending on the availability of food and water. The sizes of the herds fluctuate, as some wildebeest do not travel, choosing to stay in specific areas.

It is also interesting to note that during the Migration, the wildebeest and zebra travel harmoniously together. Though both species are herbivores, their feeding preferences differ greatly, as they prefer different parts of the same grasses. This means that while they inhabit the same space, they are not in competition for the same resources.

The thrill of the Migration is also enhanced by the presence of predators. As the herbivores cross the plains in their thousands, they are closely pursued by fearsome carnivores. More than 3 000 lions prey upon the herds, bringing down thousands of wildebeest each season. These losses are replenished during the rainy season between January and March, as the herds roam the Serengeti. It is speculated that over half a million wildebeest are born during this period.

Other predators can also be spotted preying on the herds, including hyena, cheetah, and leopard. These predators do not migrate with the herds. Rather the herds move through their territories, making them ideal prey. However, some predators have become nomadic and spend their lives in pursuit of these herds.

Crocodiles also lie in wait as the wildebeest and zebras attempt to cross over the Mara and Grumeti Rivers, ready to prey upon any who are not strong or quick enough. These crossings typically take place during the dry season when the animals make their way to the greener grazing fields of the Masai Mara.

While herd movements depend on the availability of food and water, the animals can be seen to travel in a general clockwise direction during the Great Migration. This gives the discerning traveller ample opportunity to witness the incredible phenomenon all year round. Several well-appointed lodges and camps cater to the seasoned as well as first-time viewer of the Migration. One can easily find accommodation that will suit your particular needs and provide the perfect opportunity to see this awe-inspiring spectacle.

The Great Migration Pattern

The Great Migration takes place annually, spanning the whole year. This allows for a Migration safari trip at any time of the year, depending on where the herds are. Don’t you think that this is an experience that should be on your bucket list? Chat to one of the Safari Index team of experts today to plan that dream Migration safari now!

 

African Wildlife Poaching: The Forgotten Ones

Game reserves, national parks and protected areas play a critical role in the protection and conservation of vulnerable species, especially those that are in high demand amongst illegal poaching rings. In 2017, official statistics released in July by the Department of Environmental Affairs showed a decrease in the number of rhinos poached compared to the same time in 2016- a positive sign.

However, with the focus being primarily on rhino poaching in the last few years, there are a number of other animal populations that are being targeted without restraint. Animals such as lions, elephants and pangolins are also under threat from poachers. These creatures generally don’t get the media attention that they deserve.

Elephant poaching has occurred for centuries. However, rates have dramatically increased in recent years, with most elephant tusks ending up in Asia and the Middle East on the black market. With this rise in demand for elephant tusks, various national parks and private reserves have taken up commendably strong initiatives to help protect these gentle giants and bring a halt to the illegal ivory trade. Sadly, many parks and reserves do not have the funding needed to support a cohesive anti-poaching effort, and these incredible creatures are getting slaughtered every day.

Even the King of the Jungle is not safe…

Despite an increase in awareness and conservation efforts, lion populations are still dropping. Without urgent intervention, the lion could be extinct by 2050. There do exist, however, shining beacons of hope in organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund and African Parks. These organisations not only do fantastic work in creating awareness and raising funds to conserve lions, but they are also actively involved in the management of areas where lions are found. A great example of this can be seen in Zambia‘s  Liuwa Plains National Park, where lions have been successfully reintroduced and the population is re-establishing itself. Then there is the much-anticipated arrival of lions in Malawi‘s Liwonde National Park,  where the big cats were wiped out by man 20 years ago.

The fascinating pangolin is another wild creature that is currently at risk. One of Africa’s most elusive nocturnal creatures, the pangolin  is  currently the most trafficked animal specie in the world. This is due to the demand for its unusual scales (modified hairs), which are ground up and consumed as a medicine. Several organisations are doing wonderful work in the effort to ensure the survival of the pangolin. These include PangolinConservation.org  and Now-or-Never-Africa.  Game reserves are also doing their part for the pangolin. Tswalu Game Reserve in the Kalahari provides a safe environment for these rare creatures, and is one of the best places in Africa to see the pangolin in its natural habitat.

 

Although the situation may seem dire for many of Africa’s magnificent creatures, there are many people, organisations and parks in Africa that are doing great things to ensure that the continent’s incredible wildlife species survive for future generations to see and enjoy. You can do your bit by creating awareness, supporting conservation initiatives, contributing to fund-raising efforts, or simply just by visiting one of these parks on a safari holiday. As long as parks and reserves generate revenue from people wanting to see the wildlife, there will be an incentive to preserve them!