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The Great Wildebeest Migration


The Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the most remarkable wildlife spectacles on Earth, occurring annually in East Africa’s Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.

This event involves the movement of over 1.5 million wildebeest, along with hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, in a circular route between Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve.

The Great Wildebeest Migration is a continuous and complex cycle that highlights the dynamic nature of African ecosystems.

Here are additional details about this extraordinary event:

Wildbeest Migration Phases

1. Calving Season (January to March)

Location: Southern Serengeti and Ndutu region.


  • Around 500,000 calves are born within a short period, leading to a surge in predator activity.
  • Calves need to stand and run within minutes to avoid predators.
  • This season provides ample food for lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and other predators.

2. The Move North (April to June)

Location: From southern to central and western Serengeti.


  • As the short rains end, the herds move to areas with greener pastures.
  • The migration is influenced by the search for fresh grass and water.

3. Grumeti River Crossings (June to July)

Location: Western Serengeti.


  • The herds encounter the Grumeti River, where large crocodiles await.
  • These crossings, although not as famous as the Mara River crossings, are still perilous and dramatic.

4. Mara River Crossings (July to October)

Location: Northern Serengeti and Maasai Mara.


  • Perhaps the most iconic part of the migration.
  • Thousands of wildebeest plunge into the Mara River, facing crocodiles and strong currents.
  • The crossings are unpredictable, and the timing can vary annually.

5. The Return South (October to December)

Location: Moving back to the Serengeti from Maasai Mara.


  • As the short rains begin, the herds move back to the Serengeti.
  • The cycle of migration starts anew, driven by the need for fresh grazing lands.

Ecological Impact:

Grassland Management: The movement helps prevent overgrazing in any one area, maintaining the balance of the ecosystem.

Nutrient Distribution: Droppings from the wildebeest act as fertilizer, promoting vegetation growth.

Biodiversity Support: The migration supports a diverse range of predators and scavengers, maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Viewing the Wildebeest Migration:

Best Viewing Times: Depending on what part of the migration you wish to see:

  • Calving Season: January to March.
  • Grumeti River Crossings: June to July.
  • Mara River Crossings: July to October.

Safari Options: Mobile camps and guided tours offer close-up views of the migration, with many operators tailoring their locations based on the herds’ movements.

Conservation Issues:

Human Encroachment: Expansion of agriculture and settlements disrupts migration routes.

Climate Change: Changes in rainfall patterns can affect the availability of grazing and water sources, impacting the migration’s timing and success.

Interesting Facts:

Distance: The herds cover about 1,800 miles annually.

Communication: Wildebeest communicate through vocalizations and pheromones, which help keep the herd together.

Role of Zebras: Zebras often lead the migration as they are better at finding water and can graze on tougher grasses, leaving softer, more nutritious grasses for the wildebeest.

The Great Wildebeest Migration is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of wildlife, showcasing one of the most impressive natural phenomena on the planet.