Wildebeest Migration Kenya

The great wildebeest migration Kenya is one of the most phenomenal natural occurrences in the world, the great wildebeest migration Kenya is an annual movement of millions of wildebeests accompanied by thousands of pf zebras, Thomson gazelles, elands, and Impalas across the greater Maasai Mara – Serengeti ecosystem (Masai Mara national reserve and Serengeti national park).

Every year over 1.5 million wildebeests, 350,000 Thomson gazelles, 200,000 zebras, thousands of elands, and other hoofed animals participate in the wildebeest migration, the movement of these animals is dictated by the rain which results in the nature of the grass feed on by these animals as they move. These 3 groups of animals participating in the migration have different grass-eating habits throughout the migration,

  • One group feeds on the top tallest grass
  • The next group feeds on the medium-height grass
  • The next group eats away the last grass
Wildebeest Migration Kenya
Wildebeest Migration Kenya

The most amazing thing about the feeding pattern of these herds while on the migration, each group sticks to their own kind, and these grasses fed on the herds have the highest protein content.

Up to now, there is no way one can explain how the animals participating in the great wildebeest migration know the rightful way to go each year but it is much believed that their movement in a response to weather conditions. In summary, these herds follow the rains and the growth of new grass, the herds are also said to react to lightning and thunderstorms from a distance though there is no actual proof. It is said that the herds can locate rain more than 50 kilometers away.

In the wildebeest migration, the wildebeests in the companion of zebras, Thomson gazelles, and elands follow an age-old round in search for green grass and water, their movement takes them across Masai Mara national reserve plains in Kenya heading south into Tanzania through Serengeti plains to the edge of the Ngorongoro crater, and they circle up and around in a clockwise direction.

During the migration, the dramatic river crossing is the most occurrence of the wildebeest migration to watch due to the predator action which takes place, in the predator action predators that is lions, elephants, and crocodiles hunt for calves. On the same migration, new calves are born in what is referred  to as calving season

Wildebeest migration cycle

Wildebeest migration cycle is a year-round occurrence dictated by rains resulting in the movement of herds in a constant clockwise motion between Serengeti national park and Masai mara national reserve.

January – February – march

Around January, the herds are about to finish their southwards trek along the eastern edge of Serengeti entering into Ngorongoro conservation area, these herds are attracted to the area because of the rich nutritious grass which is the best condition for raising the newly born calves.  Around late January and early February herds occupy the short grass plains that spread over the lower northern slopes of Ngorongoro crater highlands and around Olduvai Gorge, this period can be referred to as the birth season as over 400,000 calves are born in a period of 2-3 weeks. This period is perfect for witnessing the calving and the drama of big cats while hunting and feasting on the newly born calves.

Note: February – March is calving season  

April – April

April is the post-calving period with many newly born calves birthed in February and March, in April the herds begin to move north-west heading to the central Serengeti as they look for fresher grass. By May, a large concentration of herds move for kilometers and they congregate in the Moru Kopjes near Dunia camp where you get great viewing of the migration. In this same period, the mating period begins at the end of May and male wildebeests are seen battling hear to head. The journey for the wildebeests continues throughout the rut period, the wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles are seen grazing, the herds gradually start to mass in the Serengeti’s Western corridor and they form huge numbers along with the pools and channels along Grumenti River. As wildebeests cross the Grumeti river, crocodiles fest on the crossing herds.

June – July (rutting/mating season)

June is the beginning of the dry season and the herds are present in western Serengeti and on the southern banks of Grumeti River in large concentrations, the herd’s faceoff with crocodiles infested in the river as they try to cross.

As June elapses into July, hundreds of thousands of wildebeests and zebras continue on their migrating journey heading north along the western edge of Serengeti national park towards Mara river in the Northern region of Serengeti which is considered to be an even risker barrier. The river crossing is the most dramatic happening of the wildebeest migration and on earth as well, the river crossings usually start in July but it also depends on nature. During the month of July, the herds are present in the northern Serengeti and they are getting ready to cross Mara River into Masai Mara national reserve, as the herds cross the river they faceoff with the predators such as lions, cheetah, leopards roaming on the banks of the river and crocodiles living in the waters of Mara river.

August – September – October

As of August, the herds have faced a lot of challenges while crossing Mara River with the predators such as lions, crocodiles during a river crossing, because of the predators feasting on the juveniles and big herds themselves. A reduction in the number of herds is slightly visible. These predators are always present on the banks of Mara River waiting to attack the herds as they try to cross over to the other side, after crossing Mara River the animals move without break for hours spreading through the northern region of Masai Mara national reserve.

In September – October, the chaos for crossing the river has ended, the herds gradually move eastwards however they are to face off the heavy waters of Mara River again while on their return journey southwards.

November – December

In November the wildebeests and other animals set off moving from Kenya down into the eastern plains of Serengeti national park past Namiri plains, this movement is done after the short rains in late October and early November. This cycle continues until the calving season of the wildebeests starts once again.

In conclusion, Mara river crossing is the climax of wildebeest migration as it is filled with emotions, heartache, inspiration, excitement and so much tension as you watch herds of animals rush into crocodiles infesting the water of the river.

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