Great Wildebeest Migration reaches Kenya

Posted on 4 July 2019

The Great Wildebeest Migration has started to move into the Masai Mara National Park, with some having already moved across the grasslands and on to crossing over the Mara River.

According to Africa Geographic, wildebeest have no natural leader, which is why some smaller herds will split from the ‘mega-herd’ and travel at a slightly different pace and in a different area. It is still unknown exactly what triggers the migration and how the animals navigate their path.

The world’s largest land migration of wildlife is not easy to predict or track, but it is said to have started about a month or so earlier than usual this year with the first signs of it being seen in June.

The wildebeest are joined on their 1,000km round-trip journey by zebra and other antelope as they migrate to the lush grasslands of Kenya.

The migratory cycle begins with the wildebeest calving season in Tanzania’s Serengeti from January to March. During this time, half a million calves are born.

By mid-July, the herds would have been moving through the Serengeti for a few months to reach the lush grasslands of the Masai Mara in Kenya.

But first, they must cross the Grumeti and Mara Rivers, where crocodiles wait in the shallows.

‘One interesting study likened the wildebeest crossings to a type of ‘swarm intelligence’. From the outside, the crossings seem to be frenzied and uncalculated… but the animals are, in fact, systematically exploring and overcoming the obstacle as one single unit – or swarm,’ reported National Geographic.

By October, most of the herd has reached the grasslands of the Masai Mara. It’s a short stint, however; in November, they begin their journey back to the southern Serengeti to be there in time for the green shoots on its plains. They arrive by December, when the cycle starts to pick up again.


Featured image: Jason Hafso.

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