Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Wildebeest Migration Jumps Right Into The Jaws Of The Masai Mara

The first wildebeest jumps into the Mara river and the herd follows. Photo courtesy by our guest Amira Claudia Khan

The 7th greatest natural wonder of the world is upon us once again. It is an event which for years has continually privileged two neighboring countries to offer free passage between their borders for over 3 Million travelers; it is the Annual wildebeest migration in Kenya and Tanzania, the most spectacular natural event in Africa.

Your journey to witness this natural adventure starts when you contact Wild Kenya Safaris

The journey for the animals of the great migration however, begins sometime in May where instinctively, large herds of wildebeest begin to leave the Serengeti plains to seek fresher greener pastures in the Maasai Mara. Tens of thousands of acres of grassland are suddenly covered by masses of migrating gnu and every step they take invites more and more followers to the pilgrimage. Come July, the herds are at the final leg of their destination and are ready to cross the river. But there is something else which makes this event spectacular beyond the sheer mass of migrating mammals.

The month long, tranquil marching pace has suddenly come to a dead stop and the entire atmosphere has been abruptly transformed into a state of absolute confusion, fear and panic. Survival instincts have taken over. A light splash is heard from across the river; Nile crocodiles inhibit these waters.
Uncertain of their next move, the grunting and moaning wildebeest wander parallel along the river bank trying to look for a shallow and trouble-free crossing that displays no hint of observable danger. But by now, thousands of gnu have gathered at the crossing path and the front line of animals are now being forcefully pushed and shoved up to the waters edge.

Wild Kenya Safaris
The Wildebeest cross the river in a single line at Masai Mara. Photo courtesy by our guest Amira Claudia Khan

The giant Nile crocodiles which average four meters in length will patiently lay in wait. They know that food will eventually come to them since the wildebeest have no other choice, either you cross the river or starve to death in the now dry Serengeti. The crocodiles are quadrupeds; they have their eyes, ears and nostrils positioned on top of their head so that the rest of the body can remain partly submerged underwater. In this concealed state, they can easily be mistaken for tree logs, quietly directing their approach to the river shore with stealth. If need be, they can burst into action and swim at speeds of up to 30kmph. It is estimated there are less than 400,000 of these living dinosaurs left in the wild. Anxiety on the river bank has now reached a heightened peak and a gnu finally finds the nerve to plunge into the raging currents, where now, as if by magic, the rest of the herd pour themselves into the wake of the first, their convulsive wading now forming one long synchronized line as they attempt to cross the river.

A five meter crocodile approaches the left flank of the now fear stricken wading herd, swimming past the first few wildebeest that are only a foot away from him. A struggling target has been sighted!! With jaws agape the crocodile lunges into the face of the victim where it holds on exceedingly tightly as it drags the now drowning gnu into the murky abyss.

Wild Kenya Safari
A crocodile attacks the crossing herd of wildebeest and zebra. Photo courtesy by our guest Amira Claudia Khan

It is assumed that over 200 thousand wildebeest die from drowning and predator attacks during this great migration. The greener grasses however on the other side, replenishes the losses with over 400 thousand births a year. 

This great natural spectacle based purely on animal instinct reflecting the survival of the fittest is what we humans come to witness annually from all over the world. You too can join Wild Kenya Safaris every year and watch these animals of the wildebeest migration cross into Kenya, right into the jaws of the Masai Mara.

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