The Wildebeest Migration of the Serengeti is not only great – but simply phenomenal, so much so that it can be seen from space! Every year over a million of these ungulates move across the plains of the Serengeti from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya in a breathtaking journey of sheer determination.
It is an expedition filled with dramatic tension with up to 8,000 births a day over a distance of 2,896 km covered, and a death rate of around 250, 000 animals. The migration patterns are also affected by the rainfall, the animals flowing clockwise through the Serengeti in search of lush green grass.
JANUARY: The herds congregate in Tanzania, in the Serengeti. They gradually move south towards the Ngorongoro Conservation area.
FEBRUARY: It’s calving season and the herd remains in the area to take advantage of the healthy grazing conditions. During this time, there can be up to 8,000 births in a single day. Predators wait patiently on the outskirts for the vulnerable young prey. Hunting is prolific throughout the migration, lions and other cats following in the footsteps of abundant wildlife.
MARCH: Herds are located in the Ndutu region of the Ngorongoro Conservation area, lingering for nutrient rich grasses.
APRIL: Rainy season begins and the wildebeest embark on their northward journey across the southern Serengeti plains.
MAY: The herds are on the move! Massive columns up to 40km long head up into the central and western regions of the Serengeti.
JUNE: Herds can be found in the central and western Serengeti, their last respite before the dangerous and daring river crossings. This is also mating season, a character-filled and noisy time for wildebeest.
JULY: Time for the death defying river crossing! The herd risks life and limb to cross the Grumeti River in the western Serengeti. The herd uses sheer force and determination to cross the river where crocodiles are lying in wait, ready to snap up any unfortunate wildebeests.
AUGUST: River crossings happen from August through to October. The survivors feast in the northern Serengeti and start to head back into Kenya’s Masai Mara.
SEPTEMBER: By now the herds have broken up into smaller groups and spread out across the plains. Around half of them are in the Masai Mara and the other half are in the northern Serengeti. For those in the Masai Mara, it’s time for another dangerous river crossing of the Mara River itself.
OCTOBER: Most of the wildebeest are in the Masai Mara now, remaining in this area until the rains begin once again.
NOVEMBER: It’s time to move on again as by now the short rains have begun and there’s not much grass left. The herds return to the rejuvenated Serengeti.
DECEMBER: The wildebeest are back in the north-eastern and southern Serengeti where the grasses have had a chance to replenish.
The circle of life begins once again.