Life on earth is hard. Perhaps nowhere is harder than in Masai Mara National reserve and the Serengeti National Park. The Wildbeest Migration which occurs in between those African National parks is also known as the world cup of wild life. Hence, it is incredible, it is magic and it is indescribable.
The stage where this show is set is termed as Serengeti, about 40,000 Square. kilometers pretty much defined by the presiding migration routes of the Serengeti National Park and the adjacent Maswa Game Reserve in the center, east and west; and the Maasai Mara National Reserve to the north.
The Major characters of the play is done by the wildebeest, whose numbers appear to around 1.7 million, with supporting roles from 400,000 of Thomson’s gazelle, 300,000 zebra and 12,000 eland. These are the major migrators and they cross overlapping the ranges of more than a quarter million of other resident herbivores and carnivores. The lions, leopards, cheetahs and many other apprentice killers wait for their first taste to chase.
In real there is no beginning or an end to this world’s largest mammal migration. The wildebeest are the migration by themselves – with their endless search for food and water, as they circulate through the Serengeti in a constant cycle of life and death. There, the only beginning is the moment of birth; the only ending is death.
The yearly cycle begins in the south of the Serengeti National park, where half a million calves are born from January to March. In March, the grass plains of the southernmost Serengeti begin to dry out and the wildebeest begin their journey, heading towards the western woods. By May the Serengeti’s wildebeest all seem to be moving north, migrating to seek fresh grazing and water.
There, often contains thousands of wild animals including many zebras, and a scattering of Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelles. The wildebeest migration continues moving towards north during July and August, some heading through Ikorongo and Grumeti Reserve, others move to the center of the Serengeti National Park. In September the herds spread across the northern Serengeti, where they have to cross the Mara River and its most serious obstacles.
October sees wildebeest herds are migrating again towards south, crossing western Loliondo and the Serengeti National Park’s Lobo area, reunion at the green shoots which follow the rains on the grass plains of the southern Serengeti in November.
Many rivers to cross
During the annual mating season of the migrators which coincides with the rainy season, vicious fighting between dominant or territorial males takes place. Most time of the year rivers are relatively placid, but they can become violent torrents due to the rainfall when the herds head north, and then they present major obstacles to the progress of the wildebeest movement.
Sometimes mothers become separated from their calves turned back to look for them re-entering the water and swimming back. On reaching the other side, still not reunited with their offspring, they turned back once again or get weak, attacked by predators or starve to death. Such tragedies are common in wildebeest migration. The process of the wildebeest is that it has been created by evolution to travel large distances periodically and economically, Every face of its life and behavior is plotted to save time wildebeest can even mate on the move, and newborns are too up and running in minutes.
Which way to go?
It is Obvious to think how they make their navigation. Harvey Croze, a behavioral ecologist suggests that this migration is controlled primarily by their response to the changes in weather and environmental conditions; they follow the rains and the growth of new grass. While some others suggest that it is imprinted in to their DNA by thousands of years of natural selection, in which direction they must travel.