The Great Migration Begins
Letʼs take you on a journey to Africa, where you will witness a wonder of the world that happens no where else -- The Great Migration. Two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, which starts in July and lasts into October.
The ﬁrst thing the animals need is food and water, keeping in mind the prying eyes of their predators. On top of that, they also have to make sure, they donʼt lose their way. Letʼs see what they encounter on their way!
About The Migration
About 1.5 million wildebeests, 350,000 Thomsonʼs gazelle, 200,000 zebra and 12,000 eland, gather up their young, and begin their annual trek northwards. The animals cover a journey of 1800 miles, in a clockwise circle. This impressive phenomenon depends on the availability of grazing. If there is not enough rainfall, the short-grass plains of the Serengeti begin to dry out. Thatʼs when the wildebeests decide to move north. But how do they know which way to go?
It is not quite clear, but ecologists believe that they might be following the rains or the growth of new grass. Since this migration has been going on for centuries, the direction of travel may be etched in their DNAs.
From Start To Finish
The start of the migration begins in January, when 400,000 calves are born at the same time.The new-borns get on their feet, as soon as their two-three minutes old. At age ﬁve minutes, they are able to run alongside the herd, and outrun a lioness. With the grass drying up in March and predators posing a big threat to the lives of the calves, the herds head west towards the small lakes called Ndutu, Masek and Lagarja, in the direction of long rains.
The satisﬁed herds then head north-west into the woodlands west of Seronera towards Lake Victoria. Around May and June, begins the annual rut, where millions mate in a one-month span. The peak of the rut takes place on a full moon, where vicious ﬁghting takes place between males, even though the females are the ones to ﬁnally choose their mates.
One spectacular sight is when the herds gather to cross the Grumeti River and Mara River. Right beneath the waters lie crocodiles looking for signs of any weaknesses. If some canʼt cope up with the currents or lose their mothers, the crocodiles seize their chance. Lions, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs also lie in wait, as hundreds of wildebeests reach the shores. This would be the place to see a kill in action!
Once they have reached the grasslands of Maasai Mara, they spend several months grazing. By late October, when the Serengetiʼs short-grass plains are showered by its ﬁrst sets of rain, the herds move back to give birth.
They are greeted by a lush green landscape, and the cycle begins once again.