The trail to the Great Wildebeest

The migration of the great wildebeest between the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya is the most amazing wildlife in the world. The Kenya/Tanzania border runs between the two parks. However, there are no fences between the parks and this allows the animals to move freely. Every year, the wildebeest moves in a clockwise cycle over 1800 miles in search of green pastures and good water. This migration, carried by the mother, is a long and tiring journey, with no end and no beginning. This migration involves the 1.5m wildebeest, about 200,000 zebras, gazelles, antelopes and the big five (elephant, lion, rhino, leopard, buffalo).

The breeding season – Between the months of December and March is the best time to visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Southern Serengeti. The mature grass in the rolling fields is an ideal habitat for the wildebeest. This is the breeding season where more than eighty percent of the wildebeest give birth. Childbirth is not without its challenges. It is a great time for big cats like lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas. Most of the cows are killed by predators and the weak ones die during the journey. This is the best time to watch the predators grab their prey as you shoot.

By the end of March, the remaining grass cannot support the wildebeest population. The wildebeest runs through the western Serengeti. The animals graze on the long green grass and bushes in this area from April to May. This is the long rainy season in East Africa. During this time, it becomes easy for tourists to travel because of bad roads.

May and early June are wildebeest mating season. By the end of June, the animals had eaten a lot of green grass. The animals were forced to migrate north of the Serengeti. During their journey, many animals are killed by territorial predators and others are attacked by large crocodiles as they cross the Grumeti River.

The wildebeest roams the Kenya-Tanzania border again. The biggest challenge for the large herd of wildebeest is crossing the Mara River. Animals must cross the river to avoid starvation. The rise of the Mara River is the most important event for photographers, filmmakers and documentaries. Sometimes, the animals may choose to cross the shallows of the river and most of the wildebeest go to the Mara plain. Sometimes, the animals may choose to go to the river where hundreds of animals are drowning. Most of the animals that died were old, weak and young cows. Some people were killed by the hippos and the staffs that were waiting for them on the banks of the river.

Wildebeest roam the Mara plains to graze on green grass. In the month of November, there is nothing to keep the wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, antelope and less herbivorous. This is the season of the short rains in the Serengeti and the grass is abundant. The journey begins in the Serengeti Conservation area and the calving season begins. The annual wildebeest migration is a natural phenomenon and, the time varies from year to year, month to month.

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