The annual wildebeest Migration is a drama in two acts the arresting dash for freedom as the herds swarm across the Mara and other rivers in the north braving enormous Nile crocodiles, lion, hyena, cheetah and leopard in search of water and new grazing, followed by the remarkable months of calving in the lush grasslands of the south.
It is the largest herd movement of animals on the planet. In fact, with up to 1 000 animals per km2, it can be seen from space. The numbers are astonishing: over 1,2 million wildebeest and 300 000 zebra along with topi and other gazelle move in a constant cycle through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in search of nutritious grass and water. Guided by survival instinct, each wildebeest will cover 800 to 1 000km on its individual journey along age old migration routes. Hungry predators lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, wild dog and crocs make sure only the strongest survive.
It is thought that rainfall over 50km away can trigger the start of the mass movement perhaps through smell or the recognition of thunder and lightening on the horizon. The circuit takes the animals from the Ngongorogoro Conservation Area in the south of the Serengeti in Tanzania, up through the Serengeti and across into the Maasai Mara, and back again. The journey is beset with danger: young calves are snatched by predators, the slow are brought down by prides of lion, brave beasts break legs on steep river slopes, crocodiles take their share of the stragglers, and the weak and exhausted drown.
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