Wildebeest Migration – It’s Cooler Than You Think


Wildebeest Migration - It's Cooler Than You Think

Pick your favorite science phenomenon and explain what is happening; Here is the wildebeest migration the seventh wonder of the world, an annual event that involves a spectacular animal migration in the East African plains of Mara and Serengeti. This happens between the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Maasai Mara National reserve in Kenya. Approximately 2 Million animals take part in the spectacular phenomenon among them the wildebeests the primary players, the zebras, the Thomson’s gazelles and the elands. This natural phenomenon is just out of this world, it is a real safari experience for anyone planning for a safari vacation.

The wildebeest belongs to the Bovidae family which also comprises the antelope, goats and cattle among other even toed horned ungulates, it is a mammal. It is however, famous due to the annual migration.

Every year, about 1.6 million wildebeests and around 400,000 zebras and gazelles migrate from the Serengeti plains in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara champagne tinted hills in Kenya. The migration is mainly influenced by the search for water and food which is normally dictated by the weather patterns. The animals travel for more than 1800 miles. It takes place in the dry and rainy seasons; this can be after the rainy season ends either June or May whereby the animals move to the dry areas because of the lack of surface water for drinking. At the star of the rainy season the animals promptly move to their wet season ranges. The primary factors that lead to this migration as I had explained earlier are the search for water and food and other secondary factors include fleeing from predators and the search for pastures containing phosphorous. Phosphorous is an essentially important ingredient particularly for the lactating females.

The most interesting bit in the whole migration that is watched by thousands of tourists from all the corners of the globe is when the animals are crossing River Grumeti in Tanzania and the Mara River in Kenya. When the animals cross, crocodiles are usually waiting for the feeble and weak, this sight of hundreds of animals crossing the river and others being eaten by the crocodiles is just awesome. On the other hand, the animals that cross the river successfully often attract a host of predators such as lions, leopards, wild dogs and hyenas. The sight of the predators killing prey is another spectacular experience for the safari goers.

Wildebeests are however strong and can even inflict an injury on a lion. They can run on maximum speed of about 80 Km/h (50 mph) while their main defensive approach is herding, where by the younger ones are protected by the older and larger animals while they run as a group.

The migration has no start or finish line to the animals never ending search for water and food, as the animals circle the Mara and Serengeti ecosystem all their life. This is an unrelenting sequence of either life or death. The only beginning is the time of birth. Pick your favorite science phenomenon and explain what is happening and this here is a true phenomenon.