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Maasai Mara Wildebeest Migration
sunset-wildebeest The Wildebeest arrive at the Mara River around July and cross over onto the Masai Mara plains. The wildebeest remain here until October, when they return to Tanzania.
The Great Wildebeest Migration: A Wonder of the World

1.5 million wildebeest (gnu), 300,000 Thomson's gazelle, 250,000 zebras leave the Serengeti in Tanzania in May, lured to the northern Maasai Mara in Kenya by rainfall and the promise of sprouting, nutrient-rich grasses. Predators such as lion, hyaena and cheetah follow hot on their heels...

From January onwards, massive herds of wildebeest gather on the plains of the Serengeti. This 22 000 square kilometre ecosystem of grass- and wood-land is home to a staggering two million herbivores. Here the wildebeest drop their calves (numbers estimated at 400 000). wildebeest_migrationPredators like spotted hyaena, lion, cheetah, leopard and jackals flourish, feeding on the excessive glut of wildebeest veal. Once the long rains cease in May, the plains dry up quickly and become dry, harsh, and inhospitable. The calves are now strong enough to begin their first journey, and it is then that the long march north begins.

From the Simba and Moru Koppies (hills) in the north-west, the wooded grassland plains of the Serengeti separate into two corridors: to the west lie the Mbalageti and Grumeti rivers and Lake Victoria, while the other corridor extends north through woodland and over hills towards the Maasai Mara. The rutting season in June is a noisy, dusty affair - with male wildebeest vociferously showing off their genetic superiority. Soon, most of the 'ladies' are pregnant.

The herds then move on to Lake Victoria - the second-largest lake in the world, which has its own micro-climate and produces sufficient rainfall and pasture along its shores. Many wildebeest move north-west and cross into the Maasai Mara, having to negotiate the Mara River from July onwards. The Mara River crossing is extraordinary - optimistic vultures and Marabou storks line the banks in anticipation as the wildebeest plunge into the river, negotiating both the strong current and crocodiles in their inexhaustible drive for fodder.

The wildebeest remain in the Maasai Mara for two to three months, sustained by the short rains and pasture. They head south between October and December, and move along the eastern section of the Serengeti in time to give birth during the life-giving long rains of the South.

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