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Witnessing The Great Migration

Posted April 11, 2016

On the Serengeti, the circle of life begins and ends with the Great Migration. Although the migration has occurred since the arrival of mammals on these endless plains, the yearly event starts anew at the end of February. The constant rainfall pushes the wildebeests, zebras, elands, and gazelles in a circular journey across the landscape.

The beginning of the migration allows these animals to find an appropriate place to rest for the birthing season in the spring. The animals temporarily pause on grounds deemed safe by the group to await the births of more than 300,000 calves. As the rains turn into constant sunshine, the animals continue to move in search of fresh food and drinking water for the entire herd. The migration corridors change with the landscape as paths across deep waterways open up, and predatory animals alter their territories.

CIRCLE OF LIFE

Lions, hyenas and cheetahs take advantage of the plentiful prey traveling through their territories in Tanzania. Crocodiles join the feast when the herds come near or have to cross the waterways. Safety in numbers only protects the animals in the center of the pack.



Individuals trailing along behind the group are easily picked off by the predators lurking around the edges. Since the calves are the easiest for predators to catch, only a fraction of the new herd members survive the migration. At the end of the migratory period, only the strongest, or luckiest, members of the herd remain.

MEANDERING PATHS

Each year, the path of the Great Migration changes due to landscape alterations, predator territories and human development. The herds naturally avoid tall grass, mud puddles, and deep waters in an attempt to avoid falling prey to the predators patiently waiting nearby. Herds may change their trajectory on the fly upon spotting large congregations of predators lurking in the grassy fields.



Human development across Serengeti National Park threatens to displace the herd as they look for a safe, quick way to travel their migratory path. Although a proposal to build a concrete highway was recently denied, continued attempts to develop will eventually prevail, especially as human population expands in that region.

CORRIDOR PRESERVATION

Great care and effort will need to go into preserving the migration corridors the wildebeests, gazelles, elands and zebras require. Humans can prevent habitat fragmentation by establishing safe corridors for the herds' journey across the lands. Unfortunately, these corridors would push predator groups closer to the action, resulting in the loss of even more members of the herd. Over the next few decades, the face of the Great Migration could drastically change.



You can book a trip to enjoy a glimpse of the Great Migration at any time of the year. Your journey timing and itinerary will greatly influence the animals and events you can see. You can travel to Kenya during the summer months, for example, to watch in awe as the herds attempt multiple exciting river crossings. Each time you book a wildlife adventure trip to this region, you will see and experience something new - and incredible.