It is said to be one of earth’s most spectacular natural events. Nowhere in the world is there a movement of animals more intense than the wildebeest migration. Every year, during the months of July through October, close to two million wildebeest, zebras and antelopes migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
In their quest for greener pastures and water, these herbivores must cross the mighty Mara River, where huge crocodiles lurk in wait, to reach the grassy plains. More drama unfolds as they are greeted by hungry carnivores on the opposite shore.
The stage is now set for a showdown between predators and prey. The carnivores are mainly comprised of Nile crocodiles, lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyenas. The prey are the Wildebeest or Gnu, Zebras, Thompson’s and Grant gazelles, Elands and Impalas. The spectacle of life and death, reminiscent of Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” plays before our eyes.
Not all of those who succumb do so to the predators. Many will simply drown in the river, trampled by their own, as the chaotic and frantic mass of flesh stampedes from one shore to the other. But the sheer numbers of those migrating beasts will easily dwarf those lost to this gauntlet. They will soon cover the vast grasslands as far as the eye can see, and their life cycle will continue.