Map Showing great Wildebeest Migration.
Map Showing great Wildebeest Migration. : The great migratory circuit leads the herds from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the south of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, up across the plains of Serengeti National Park into Kenya’s Maasai Mara national reserve and back again, repeating the trek all over again. The entire voyage is fraught with peril, with predators such as lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and African wild dogs stealing juvenile claves along the Grumenti and Mara Rivers. In the Mara River, the herds also clash with crocodiles, and some of the weak and weary animals perish; with only the strongest surviving.
The wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras all consume grass in distinct ways; one group consumes the top of the tallest grass, another group eats the medium-height grass, and the third group eats the rest until it is nearly entirely consumed. The herds then move on; because they graze grass, each group stays with their own type, with just a little overlap in their distributions. The grasses of the Serengeti and Maasai Mara national reserves have the greatest protein content and are also high in nutrients.
Map showing the Wildebeest Migration.
The Great Migration is a continuous circular migration of over a million animals through the Serengeti-Mara habitat. The continuous migration of columns of wildebeest, accompanied by a slew of friends, follows an age-old path in search of pasture and water. After calving in the southern Serengeti in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the animals go up and across the Serengeti in a clockwise pattern to the Masai Mara in Kenya, before returning near the end of the year. High drama is constantly there along the way, as predators take thousands of creatures and thousands more are born, replenishing the numbers and perpetuating the wheel of life.
January, February and March
Around January, the great migration completes a southern journey that takes it through the eastern boundary of the Serengeti National Park and into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. These plains (Serengeti and Ngorongoro) are rich in nutritious grass, giving the optimum circumstances for the migratory herds to raise their calves.
Though there is no genuine beginning or end to the migratory circuit (other than bird and death), it seems more reasonable to call the birthing season of the wildebeest the start of the migration. Around late January or February, the herds occupy the short-grass plains spread across the lower northern slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater Highlands and around Olduvai Gorge. Over 400,000 calves are born in 2-3 weeks during the birthing season, with approximately 8,000 calves born every day.
Due to the sheer number of wildebeests, the abundance of vulnerable newly born young calves attracts a number of predators, who spring into action hunting with ease. For travelers/tourists interested in witnessing the calving and hunting drama of the big cats, this period is the ideal time to visit Serengeti national park.
Wildebeest Migration in April and May
After giving birth in February and March, the wildebeest herds begin to migrate northwest onto the greener grass of the middle Serengeti, bringing thousands of zebra and smaller groups of antelope with them. By May, columns of wildebeest extend for several kilometres as the animals cluster near the Moru Kopjes, close to Dunia Camp, one of the few Serengeti lodges that provide migration viewing at this time of year. Mating season begins in late May, when male wildebeest compete head-to-head. The trek continues at leisure during ‘the rut,’ with the wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle feeding as they go.
The herds form in large numbers around the river’s pools and channels, which they must pass in order to continue their trek. Although it is not as dramatic as the famed Mara crossings, there are still enough wildebeest to feed the Grumeti crocs. Safaris at this season provide good value due to the low number of people in the Serengeti, while animal viewings remain outstanding.
The Wildebeest Migration in June and July
The dry season begins in June, with significant concentrations of wildebeest in the Western Serengeti and along the southern banks of the Grumeti River. Each migrating mammal must overcome the obstacle of traversing a crocodile-infested river – the first of many anxious river encounters.
As June progresses into July, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra continue to migrate north along the park’s western boundary toward an even more dangerous barrier; the Mara River in the Serengeti’s north. These river crossings are undoubtedly among the most thrilling wildlife occurrences on the planet. They often begin in July, at the start of peak season, although the timing is entirely dependent on nature. The herds will typically be found in the Northern Serengeti in the month of July.
The Wildebeest Migration in August, September and October.
By August, the herds had overcome the barrier of crossing the Mara River and were dispersed over the northern part of the Masai Mara, with many remaining in the northern Serengeti. When the river is at its full flow, the panic and uncertainty at the crossings, along with waiting predators and surging currents, can result in catastrophic loss of life. Even in years of more gentle flow, the crocs take their toll, not to mention the lions and other huge predators who watch the banks, ready to attack any wildebeest that make it to the other side.
The major turmoil had ceased by September or October, and the migratory columns had progressively drifted eastward. The wildebeest, on the other hand, will encounter the Mara River’s high floods once more as they prepare to cross for the second time on their way south.
The Wildebeest Migration in November and December.
Following the East African brief rains in late October and early November, the wildebeest migrate down from Kenya and towards the Serengeti’s eastern borders, via Namiri Plains, an area noted for excellent cheetah sightings. They had expanded over the eastern and southern regions by December.
The grasslands in the Serengeti’s far south are thick with rain in the early months of the New Year. This attracts herds of wildebeest as well as hundreds of thousands of zebra and other plains creatures. The cycle continues when the calving season resumes.
Some migrators will be eaten by crocodiles as they go across rivers, fighting strong currents and the pressure of their herd’s wet, heaving bodies. On the plains, lions, leopards, and hyenas will take their fair share of prey.
But, in the end, teamwork between the region’s two ecosystems will save the herds and secure their survival. Indeed, these habitats sustain the greatest number of big animal species found anywhere on the planet. And they’ve kept one of the world’s few surviving big animal migrations in a reasonably untouched state since the time of the hunter-gatherers.