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The great wildebeest migration route

The great wildebeest migration route

The Great Wildebeest Migration between Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve is the most amazing natural wildlife spectacle on earth. The border between Kenya and Tanzania runs between the two parks. However, there is no fence between the parks and this allows the animals to move freely. Every year, wildebeest migrate in a clockwise cycle over 1,800 miles in search of greener pastures and quality water. This migration brought by Mother Nature is a long and tiring journey that has no end and no beginning. This migratory movement includes over 1.5m wildebeest, around 200,000 zebra, gazelle, antelope and the big five (elephant, lion, rhinoceros, leopard, buffalo).

Breeding Time – Between the months of December and March is the best time to visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Southern Serengeti. The mature grass of the hilly plains is an ideal home for wildebeest. This is the breeding season when over eighty percent of wildebeest give birth. The calving season hardly ends without risks. This is a period of great advantage for big cats such as lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. Most of the calves are killed by the predators, while the weak ones die during the pilgrimage. This is the best time to watch the predators catch their prey while taking a photo.

By the end of March, the remaining grass can hardly support the large herd of wildebeest. Wildebeest migrate to the western corridor of the Serengeti. The animals feed on the long-matured green grass and forests in this area from April to May. This is the season of the long rains in East Africa. During this time, it becomes completely inconvenient for tourists to travel due to bad roads.

May and early June is the wildebeest mating season. By the end of June the animals had completely eaten the green grass. The animals are forced to move to the northern part of the Serengeti. Along the way, many animals are killed by territorial predators, while others are attacked by huge crocodiles while crossing the Grumeti River.

The wildebeest migrate further, crossing the border between Kenya and Tanzania. The big challenge for the large wildebeest herd is crossing the Mara River. The animals must cross the deadly river to avoid starvation. Crossing the Mara River is the most dramatic event, especially for photographers, filmmakers and documentarians. Sometimes the animals may choose to cross where the river is shallow and most of the wildebeest reach the Mara plains. Other times animals may choose to cross where the river is deep and drown hundreds of animals. Most of the drowned animals are old, weak and young calves. Others are killed by the hippos and crocodiles that await them along the river bank.

Wildebeest spread across the plains of the Mara to feed on the green grass. By November, there is nothing left to support wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, antelope and other herbivores. This is the set of the short rains in the Serengeti and there is a lot of grass. The journey begins back to the Serengeti Conservation Area and the calving season begins. The annual wildebeest migration is a natural event and the weather varies from year to year, month to month.

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