Every year, the grounds of Serengeti witness the bewildering migration of almost one and a half wildebeests. This circular and looped migration of the wildebeests makes a spectacular vision and this epic phenomenon is known as The Great Migration. This grand movement also includes other herbivores such as zebras and gazelles. It is the biggest migration on the land. The migration starts from the south of Serengeti to the north and the herds move in search of fresh grass and water.
The wildebeests and other herbivores migrate throughout the year across the Serengeti trekking almost 800 km. Their movements are dependent abundantly upon the rainfall patterns. They initiate the trek from the South, proceed to the West, and later move to the North. The herds again pave their way back to the south of Serengeti forming a circle that also symbolises the circle of life.
Why Do They Migrate?
If this question has to be answered in a single sentence then it would be " Because the grass is always greener on the other side". Almost half a million wildebeests and three lakh zebras move across the Serengeti in search of fresh and green grass. The wildebeests can sense a rainstorm and therefore they have excellent capabilities to know where to find abundant food and water.
Are you ready to move on this voyage? Do you also want to follow this magnificent show?
Well if we are going to move, Let's go over the map first.
Pinpoint the locations
The Serengeti is located in Eastern Africa covering Tanzania and Kenya. Kenya constitutes the Northern Serengeti. The migration will commence from Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania, or the south of Serengeti to reach Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. Herds face numerous difficulties in this journey. Many wildebeests die from fatigue and many others die from predators such as Lions and cheetahs. Apart from these obstacles, herds also have to cross the Grumeti River and the Masai Mara River respectively.
We Are On the Move
In February, the wildebeests are in the south of Serengeti. The calving season for the wildebeests arrives. The wildebeests have their young ones and they feed on the green and lush green grass in the South. When April starts to arrive, the lush south starts to get barren. The days get hot and the rain starts to dwindle and thus, the wildebeests start to move to the North. The wildebeests do not move in one herd. They form several herds in unequal numbers. These herds are not led by any particular wildebeest.
The herds move towards the North via the western corridor which means they move west first and then reach to North. During May, the herds graze on the green and nutritious grass of the west while they are on the move. Around June, while on their journey in the west, the herds are faced with the current of the Grumeti River. The herds wait for each other's arrival. The wildebeests accumulate before jumping into the river. The Grumeti River channels are discontinuous due to which the number of crocodiles is less. Therefore, the crossing over the Grumeti River is not as spectacular and peculiar as the Masai Mara River.
We Must Cross The Bridge
The herds move north and around July and August, the tired herds are now met with almost 3,000 ferocious crocodiles waiting for their arrival in the Masai Mara River. The herds congregate and concentrate on the edge of the river. The wildebeests must jump in the predator-ridden river to reach Masai Mara reserve.
In September and October, the herds reach their destination in the thick plains of Masai Mara Reserve where they can feast on the grass.
Now, We Head Back
Around November, the Masai Mara also starts to get hot and dry. So, the herds now move to the South via the eastern direction. The south of Serengeti will be lush again when they reach there in December. They will graze there and when February arrives they will have their young calves again.