The wildebeest migration that happens every year, between Maasai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania which is the largest single movement of animals in the world, is perhaps one of the most spectacular natural phenomenon for anyone to behold. During the migration the wildebeests move in huge numbers in an almost predictable pattern that mostly follows the rain.
The incredible migration of up-to 1.5 million animals that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world mainly Europe and the USA begins in November when the short rains bring fresh grazing for the herds which then follow the rains into the Serengeti. By December they spread into the Central and eastern Serengeti, moving Southwards in January. February is the calving season and also a big hunting season for the predators . In march the calves are old enough to manage themselves and therefore the herd is ready to moves from the southern plains.
The long rains start in April and continue into May causing the great trek that leads the animals into the western Serengeti, In June they arrive at the Grumeti River which they cross as they move forward towards the death defying Mara river which they cross around July. By august most of the wildebeests arrive in the Maasai Mara on the Kenyan side of the Mara River where they find the big cats waiting patiently for their arrival, in September the animals enjoy grazing in the Mara before the rains begin to form again in October followed by the short rains that cause the wildebeest to start their journey back into the Serengeti through what is known as the ancient circular route.
The animals are normally accompanied by other animals like the Zebra, Gazelles, Impalas and elands, and trailed curiously by predators such as the lions and hyenas among others who follow this annual trend in order to feed themselves and their families.
The most magical moment in the whole migration is when the animals gather along the river and then suddenly charge into the waters in a frenzy, well aware of the dangers of crossing the Mara river that is highly infested by huge crocodiles that depend on such opportunities to make sumptuous feasts of the helpless animals. Certainly, some of them don’t make it to the other side either because they are trampled upon or drowned or worse still taken down by the Crocodiles of the Mara River.
It normally takes one courageous wildebeest jumping into the water followed by others to set the so called wildebeest migration into a breath-taking stampede, an instant that many tourist from across the world travel for miles to go and watch in amazement.
The pattern is never always the same as the rains can sometimes start early or even delay . This year for example the migration across the Mara river into the Kenyan side in has been delayed causing a lot of discontentment from anxious Kenyan tour operators who are eager to have their tourists see the amazing spectacle. The tourists sometimes have to be lucky to catch a glimpse of what has been labelled one of the eight wonders of nature and when they do , they are always left wanting more.