Mighty Miracle of the Wilderbeest
The wildebeest, seemingly assembled from the wreckage of all the other plains species, is one of Africa’s most charismatic creatures. Despite the appearance of an evolutionary calamity, it is also one of the most successful. When herds around two million strong gather together to migrate between the southern parts of the Serengeti National Park and the Masai Mara Game Reserve, you find one of the most dramatic wildlife events on the planet.
What Is a Wildebeest?
Crossing a river full of crocodiles is not anything you or I would probably ever want to do. Luckily, we’re not wildebeests, who have to face crocodiles and other predators during their annual migration, a trip they take every year. Wildebeests, a kind of antelope, are also called gnus.
Facts about Wildebeests
Wildebeests, whose name comes from the words ”wild beast,” are large animals – they weigh between 265 and 600 pounds and are about 4-5 feet tall at the shoulders. When you look at a picture of a wildebeest, one of the first things you might notice is their big heads and manes. They have tall shoulders, black or white beards, and gray coats. Both males and females have horns on their heads.
Wildebeest migrate on a loop path through Tanzania and Kenya following the seasonal rains even when that involves passing through dangerous territory.
More than 1.5 million wildebeest migrate in an enormous loop every year. The annual migration northwest, at the end of the rainy season (usually in May or June) is recognized as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Natural World.”
The search for greener pastures does not come without danger. Its migration route crosses many rivers, most filled with giant Nile crocodiles.
After calving in the southern part of Tanzania’s Serengeti near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the animals journey through the Serengeti up and around in a clockwise direction towards the Masai Mara in Kenya, before returning once again near the end of the year. Along the way, high drama is always present, as thousands of animals are taken by predators and thousands more are born, replenishing the numbers and sustaining the circle of life.