The annual Wildebeest and Zebra Migration in the Serengeti and Maasai Mara National Park Eco-System is indeed the biggest wildlife spectacle on Earth. It is one of the most unique natural events and normally takes place in the Serengeti National Park between the months of November and July of the following year. Many have termed this wildlife spectacle as ‘one of the greatest wonders of the world’.
The mass movement of these huge herds usually begins in May from the plains of the Southern Serengeti and heads north into the western corridor of Western Serengeti. When the northward movement begins, the herds encounter the first major obstacle – the crossing of the Grumeti River, which is infested with some of the largest crocodiles on Earth. Making the very best of this rare opportunity the crocodiles feast on the oblivious herds. This obvious obstacle has not been known to deter the herds’ determination to continue with the desired migration.
Being a natural phenomenon, there is obviously no fixed schedule for the migration which is determined according to rainfall patterns - the game either migrates due to the rainfall of the lack thereof. When a seasonal drought dries up the savannah grasslands and water supply in one area, the grazing animals move on to the next area along the Serengeti migration route where seasonal rains are falling.
From July onwards, the herds migrate towards the Northeast Serengeti and onward to the Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya. The only game which has evolved to survive without surface water for lengthy periods have adapted to the poor forage and remain in the Western Serengeti in the vicinity of the Kirawira area.
The biggest and most demanding and daunting tasks for the massive herds are when they have to cross the Mara River in the north of the National Park. At this point, much of the game does not survive; either they drown or are savaged by the crocodiles. On the opposite bank, the predators await. Clearly those who complete a successful crossing coin the term ‘The Survival of the Fittest’.
In November, when the grazing pastures have been exhausted in the North and in the Maasai Mara National Park, this army of grazers surges back to the now greener pastures of the Southern Serengeti and the South Western Ngorongoro Conservation Area as well as the areas neighboring Maswa Game Reserve.
The premium time to see the herds in the Serengeti National Park would be between the months of November and May – the rainy season. During the dry season of July thru October, most of the animals have migrated to the North and Western Serengeti. However, this does not mean that the Serengeti National Park is left completely empty. There are many animals which do not follow the migration pattern; they live and remain on the plains, especially the ‘big cats’ like lions and cheetah.
This circular cyclical miracle of the African bushveld repeats itself every year with the territorial cats waiting for their opportunity to feed on these herds who always seem unbothered by the loss of a few of their own during the ordeal.
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