The Wildebeest Migration is an annual migration of wildebeest from the Ndutu region of the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in southern Kenya.
The recent rains leave the stunning caldera reserve with an abundance of grass for zebra and wildebeest to feast upon, and it is at this time of year that the wildebeest calving season begins. It is also an opportune time for predators such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, and even hyenas to pick off weak and confused calves.
When the rains end in April/May, the zebra begin the process of heading north towards the Maasai Mara. Where the zebra go, the wildebeest follow.
The vast herd crosses the Grumeti River in June/July and the Mara River between August and November, and it is at this time that some of the most spectacular photographs and video footage can be captured. The swollen rivers sweep away members of the herd, predators harry the stragglers, and the opportunistic Nile crocodiles have a feast as animals venture into the water seeking to cross. It is a bloody, dazzling display of the food chain at work.
Once the crossings are complete, the herd settles in the Maasai Mara in southern Kenya. After remaining in the more fertile Maasai Mara for the duration of the dry season, the migration heads south again in preparation for the calving season in the New Year.
About the Mara River Crossing (July to October)
During this period, the herd continues its movement north towards the Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya. There is no tight schedule that these animals follow, and so tracking the herd’s movements becomes a day to day prospect as the meander slowly but inexorably towards the next big obstacle in their path: the Mara River.
The Mara River poses another deadly barrier for the herd, who must again brave swollen waters and the opportunistic predators if they are to find relatively safety on the far side. Photographers and documentarians from around the world gather to witness the death-defying crossing, but the surrounding landscapes are every bit as memorable as the life and death struggle taking place at the Kogatende crossing.
About Calving Season (December to March)
Life begins for a huge number of animals in the Ndutu region that straddles the southern Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In the space of a few short weeks, the calving season sees half a million young wildebeest brought into the world – with an average of 8,000 wildebeest born each day.
It is here that the vast herd begins to take shape, and it is here that the predators begin their yearlong assault upon the herd. With so many young and weak calves stumbling around, it becomes easy for the lions, leopards, and cheetahs to pick off a tasty morsel.
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