The Great Migration of Wildebeest and Zebra

Crossing the Mara River

The great annual migration of millions of zebra, wildebeest (gnu - named for grunts they make which sound like "gnu" "gnu") and other antelope in East Africa tops almost every list of safari experiences.

The Migration

Each year around 1.5 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebra (along with other antelope) gather up their young and start their long trek from Tanzania's Serengeti Plains, further north to Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve. They go in search of food and water. Their journey runs in a clockwise circle and the animals cover a distance of around 1800 miles. It's a tough journey, and every year an estimated 250,000 wildebeest don't make it.
One of the most spectacular sights of the migration is when the herds gather to cross the Grumeti River (Tanzania) and the Mara River (Kenya) from July through September. As the herds cross, crocodiles are lying in wait for any weak and feeble ungulates that can't cope with the strong currents or lose their mothers.


The Migration in Tanzania


In December through March the Serengeti plains and the Ngorongoro Conservation areas in northern Tanzania are home to giant herds of wildebeest, zebra and other ungulates. This is calving season. Most of the wildebeest calves are born in just a three week period, usually the beginning of February. Calves attract predators and this is an amazing time of year to watch impressive lion kills. It's also quite spectacular to see almost half a million little wildebeest being born and running alongside their mothers.

The Migration in Kenya


By late July, the grasses of the western Serengeti are turning yellow and the herds continue north. After crossing the Grumeti River in Tanzania the wildebeest and zebra head to Kenya's Lamai Wedge and the Mara Triangle. Before they get to the lush plains of the Mara, they have to make another river crossing. This time it's the Mara River and that too is filled with hungry crocodiles.

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