The Great Wildebeest Migration

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The Great Wildebeest Migration

Posted by Nature in Spirit Travel on November 8, 2022

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The wildebeest migration is an annual movement of millions of wildebeest through the Serengeti ecosystem, accompanied by hundreds of thousands of zebras, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles, elands, and impalas. The Great Migration is the largest overland migration in the world, with animals moving at least 800 kilometers per cycle. Between 1.5 and 2 million wildebeest, zebras, and other animals participate in the great migration in search of adequate grazing.

Every year between February and March, up to 500,000 wildebeest calves are born on the Serengeti plains. The largest birth rate occurs in February, when more than 8,000 calves can occasionally be born per day. More than 300,000 wildebeest and around 30,000 zebras die annually during the migration, along with other animals that migrate with them, as a result of carnivore predation, thirst, starvation, and a number of other reasons.

You may observe how the ongoing struggle for existence makes the Migration Season an incredibly exciting time to visit Serengeti national park during the great wildebeest migration. Rainfall is the primary predictor of the Wildebeest migration in search of green pasture and water because the wildebeest follow the rains by observing the movement of the rain clouds. They are aware that the grass they consume grows quickly in areas with a lot of rain.

What are the main events during the Great Wildebeest Migration?

River crossing and calving season are the two main events that occur during the wildebeest migration. The peak of the migration period is thought to be when the Great Migration crosses the Mara River in northern Serengeti from August to October. Wildebeest calving season is another stunning occurrence in the great migration, which typically occurs between January and February each year at Ndutu, Southern part of Serengeti National Park. Despite the fact that the migration route hasn’t changed much over time, the movement of the migration is dependent on seasonal rainfall.

Mara River Crossing
Maasai Mara, The Great Wildebeest Migration
Calving Season in Ndutu
Maasai Mara, The Great Wildebeest Migration

Where does the annual migration of wildebeests occur?

The Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area (particularly in the Ndutu Area), and Maasai Mara National Reserve are the three main locations where the wildebeest migration occurs. Wildebeest herds spend most of their time throughout the year in Serengeti national park and the Ndutu area/Calving grounds because there is enough nutritious grass for their calves to feed, due to the volcanic ash that was produced millions of years ago. The land is extremely productive and guarantees the migration herds that there will be lush pastures. The wildebeest herds spend a short time in the Maasai Mara National Reserve from July to October mostly for mating season and River Mara crossing.

The Great Wildebeest Migration’s Year-round Movement

Let’s break down a few suggestions to help you plan a trip to Serengeti National Park for the wildebeest migration event. A summary of where the migratory herds are found on a month-by-month basis is provided below.

The Great Migration in January, February, and March

During this time of the year migrating herds are most likely to be seen in the southern Serengeti on the upper parts of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Ndutu Area) for calving season. The Ndutu area is a great place to be at this time of year since you can go through fantastic game drives. Although finding accommodations in the Ndutu area may be somewhat difficult during this period because of the large number of tourists, you will have a better option of staying at the Central of Serengeti in the case that the accommodation in Ndutu is fully occupied. If you stay at an accommodation in central Serengeti, you may still enjoy a full day of wildlife viewing from the Ndutu area because Serengeti center is close by and only 1.5 hours away by car.

What makes the southern Serengeti the best location for calving season?

The shorter grasses in the Southern Serengeti make it the perfect place for calving. The wide-open plains provide security since the herds can easily see the predators and protect their calves.

The southern Serengeti’s terrain is so fertile because of the accumulated volcanic ash from a massive volcano exploded and collapsed millions of years ago at Ngorongoro. Grass on the grounds contains adequate nutrition to feed the calves. The herds won’t leave the area until their calves has consumed enough nutrition from the Southern Serengeti’s new grasses.

The Great Migration in April and May

During this time, a few of the migration herds begin to move from the Southern Serengeti to other regions of the Serengeti. Ndutu area is still the ideal location at this time of year because the herds can be seen in a somewhat dispersed way.

Due to the presence of resident cats in Ndutu Area, cats gazing in the Southern Serengeti transforms into yet another amazing experience in April. However, this area features incredible live predatory action.

Majority of the migratory herds will continue on their journey from May until they reach the Serengeti’s northern areas, although this time of year is perfect for viewing the migration in the Serengeti’s central regions.

Other herds move to the Western Corridor near the Grumeti area. You won’t likely see many herds gathered together in May due to the Serengeti’s heavy rains, which forces them to scatter.

The Great Migration in June and July

The migrating herds congregate in the northern Serengeti during the mating season. The wildebeests go through their gestation cycle before giving birth in February.

The wildebeest may be seen crossing the Grumeti River when the herds leave the park and head towards the Singita Game reserve during these months while some of the herds are migrating to the Western Serengeti.

The Kogatende area is the ideal location to be in July but the migration herds can be found all over the Central, Western, and Eastern Serengeti during this time.

The Great Migration in August, September, and October

Even though the entire year can be spent experiencing Migration, this is undoubtedly the best months as the migration crosses the Mara River.

Once again, the Kogatende area is the greatest place to be during this time since it offers the best opportunity to witness massive herd of wildebeest crossing the Mara River, which is filled with dangerous crocodiles. You will also get an up-close view of the big cats as they wait to catch the herds on riverbanks.

On the other hand, it is not a must that the herds will move to the north after their journey from central Serengeti and the western corridor. Depending on the rain, some might choose to turn around and head back toward the south or continue to the north and cross the Mara River.

The Great Migration in November and December

There is no set guideline for this memorable event because rains are the primary factor in great migration movements. Since the herds are starting their migration to the South in preparation for calving season in early February, you might be lucky enough to see some wildebeest crossing the river in November. It’s possible to find less tourists in November because it’s a low season month, but for those looking for a more exclusive safari without the crowds, this is an ideal time to visit the Serengeti. During game drives, you will have ample time and more freedom.

By December, the migrating herds cover the entire eastern and southern regions. Due to rain, the southernmost grasslands of the Serengeti are extremely lush, hence attracting the herds and other animals of the plains. The cycle repeats when the new calving season begins.

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