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!

 

2 thoughts on “The Great Wildebeest Migration”

  1. I did not know that some predators had become nomadic to follow the herds. That is a super interesting little titbit.

    And yes, this is on the bucket list to experience a trip to the Serengeti.

    1. Hi Trisha. Interestingly enough many predators are nomadic (or at least semi-nomadic) at certain points in their lives such as when they are young adults before establishing territories or as older individuals ousted from territories, clans, coalitions or prides. This is especially common in male lions, cheetah (both sexes), hyena males, leopard (both sexes). Individual predators follow the herds waiting for opportunities to take out injured, old or young grazers as easy meals… And the Serengeti never disappoints for predator-prey interaction!

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