7 fascinating facts about the great migration is all the information you need to know about the great wildebeest migration. The Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the most spectacular wildlife event, the migration is the largest animal migration in the world with more than 2 million animals (wildebeest, zebras and gazelles) migrate in a clockwise direction across the Mara – Serengeti ecosystem made up of Serenget National Park in Tanzania and Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The herds move following the season rains on an old route. 
Wildebeest Migration in Tanzania
Great Wildebeest Migration in Tanzania
The Great Migration is one of the Seven New Wonders in the World, this impressive migration consists of epic river crossings at Grumeti and Mara River which are considered to be the highlights of the migration for many travelers.  The wildebeest Migration is the largest land-based animal migration in world and as the herds move, they attract a number of predators including lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyenas which follow the herds to hunt for prey.  If witnessing the Great wildebeest Migration is one of your dream safari activities to do on an African safari, here are the 7 fascinating facts about The Great Migration which make you more interested in this phenomenon. 
  • Wildebeests rely on Zebras for their survival 
  All the animals that is wildebeests, zebras, elands and gazelles taking part in the Great Migration are grazers which is a reason to their non – stop migration in search for green pastures.  The wildebeests are fussy eaters, they only eat the shoots of grass. Zebra aren’t picky eaters as they eat fresh, long grass. After mowing down the long grass, only the wildebeests come in and feed on the shorter grass which they need for survival. About 200,000 zebras travel harmoniously alongside the wildebeests in the Great Migration which enables the survival of the wildebeests, zebras and wildebeests peaceful co-exists with each other.
  • Nile crocodiles can survive on one or two feedings a year 
Herds of the Great Migration must cross the Mara river and Grumeti Rivers every year during their migration as they follow their course towards greener grass, these rivers of Serengeti are filled with hungry presence of Nile Crocodiles with make these river crossings a risky occasion.  The Nile Crocodiles are huge in size weighing up to 750 kilograms and the crocodiles in the Grumeti River are some of the biggest crocodiles in Africa, you may assume that because of their huge size they need to eat constantly so as to survive. However, they need just one or two wildebeests feeds per year to survive.  These giant reptiles gorge themselves and then go into semi hibernation, they actually slow their heart rate and metabolism.  Note: Nile crocodiles have a life span of 70 to 100 years. 
  • Around half a million calves are born in two months 
Wildebeests are known to have one of the highest fertilization success rates of all animals with roughly 400,000 wildebeest calves born every year during the calving season which happens between January and early March, the calving season happens in the Southeastern plains of the Serengeti.  Also Zebras and antelopes give birth to young calves during this period which is also considered to be best time to visit Serengeti National Park, it is very exciting to see newborn calves.  The presence of vulnerable calves attracts hungry predators including lions, leopards, cheetahs, African wild dog and spotted hyenas looking for prey to feast on. The calves are the most vulnerable members of the Great Migration herds and during the course, only one in three calves make it alive to the southeastern plains of Serengeti.   
  • Calves are able to stand minutes after their birth 
Wildebeest and zebra calves are amazing animals with ability to stand after birth and soon thereafter can start running, wildebeest calves can walk on their own within minutes of being born. Within a few days, the calves can keep up with the herd and even outrun a lioness.  Zebras foals can pretty much walk and even run after an hour. Zebra and wildebeest species are called precocial meaning their young are born in an advanced state, this trait helps them to survive as they live with predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs and African Wild dogs lurking around. If the calves were unable to move, they would literally be the target to the predators.  Note: since the fetuses must grow to greater maturity in utero, precocial babies need long gestation periods. For the wildebeests and eland is nine months and for zebras it is 13 months. 
  • Adult lions can eat 40 kg of wildebeest in a sitting 
Lions nicknamed “the King of the Jungle” do not eat all the time but when they do, the eat tremendously. Lions usually eat every three to four days averaging around 6 kg per feed, but they can go for longer than that, even for a week or so.  After a long spell of not eating, lions eat big. “A fully grown male lion can eat 40 kg of wildebeest in one sitting which is about a quarter of its own weight”  
  • Wildebeest hooves leave a scent trail for others to follow 
The Great Migration consists of more than one solid herd, there is a main herd and satellite herds which endless morph, splinter and coalesce over time.  From late December to early March, the herd is at its most cohesive, this is when all the wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and elands gather together in the southeastern grassland of Serengeti National Park. This is the calving season, the most vulnerable time in the migration and herds are seeking protection in numbers from predators roaming around in search for prey.  When animals are back on the move, the herd splinters and animals spread out. This is especially the case when there is plenty of green grass to feed on.  According to the new evidence, the glands in the wildebeest’ hooves secrete pheromones and faeces that stays on the ground thus allowing their fellow wildebeests to follow their smell. This makes the disparate herds to stay connected and link up. 
  • The grunt of each wildebeest is unique 
Wildebeests are also called “gnu” with the g being silent, it is pronounced as “nu”, this is an onomatopoeic word for grunting sound animals make.  What is really fascinating is that each wildebeest has a unique grunt – a unique nu, these sounds help them locate each other. For instance, when it is dark or there is a large herd, a mother and foal can find one another by listening for their unique nu’s.    The Great Migration is one the most fascinating wildlife event one should witness once in a life time, book your wildebeest migration safari with Jewel Safaris. 

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