The Maasai Mara National Reserve is famously known for the great wildebeest migrations. This is where over two millions wildebeest, zebra and Thomson gazelles migrate annually from Kenya to Tanzania a cross the Mara River terming it as the great wildebeest migration and consider being one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World”The stage on which these phenomenons arise is loosely term as the Serengeti Ecosystem, about 40, 000 square kilometers, of which a defined dominant migration route of the white bearded wildebeest and zebras are easily marked and can be use as migratory corridors.
To witness any birth is quite amazing but watching the wildebeest birthing verges on the incredible sounds funny! A newborn wildebeest gains co-ordination faster than any other ungulates and able to escape any dangers within 3-5minutes after birth. Notwithstanding this, many do die within their first year, from predators like lions, leopards, cheetahs among other predator. Many calves get separated from their mothers when the herds are chased away by lions or reaches time to migrate and cross the Mara River.
Others may be eaten by crocodile during the Maasai Mara crossing. The calves then wander for days looking for mothers, bleating and bawling incessantly till they adapt up with the new environment. On rare occasions they may be lucky to find her, but no wildebeest cow will adopt a strange calf, even if she has lost her own and is lactating at the time. As it weakens, a lost calf becomes an easy victim for any watching predator in the wilderness.In the end of the short dry season, around March, the short-grass plains of the southernmost Serengeti begin to dry out and the wildebeest begin their journey, towards the western part. How do they know which way to go? There are at least two possible answers:
According to behaviorist and ecologist co-author of The Great Migration, the wildebeest’s journey is dictated primarily by their response to the weather; they follow the rains patterns and the growth of new grass. And, although there is no scientific proof that this is true, it seems that they, and other animals, react to lightning and thunderstorms in the distance. ‘It would be surprising if even the wildebeest could overlook such prominent portents of change in their natural ecosystem (Harvey &Croze).
But it is probably instinctive knowledge, etched into their DNA by hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection, that is the major reason why these ‘clowns of the plains’ know in which direction they must travel. Over the millennium, those wildebeest that went the ‘wrong’ way would have died of thirst, predation and starvation long before they could reproduce, so the wildebeest that lived to produce the future generations were the ones that went the ‘right’ way according to the researchers.
With these phenomenon it has remain as one of the distinctive scenarios that give Kenya Tanzania safaris a reputation in not only in East Africa but also world wide .
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