Over 1.2 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebra, as well as topi and other gazelle, migrate through the Serengeti-Mara environment on a daily basis in search of nourishing grass and water. Each wildebeest will travel 800 to 1,000 kilometers along age-old migration pathways, guided by survival instinct. In this natural display regarded as ‘the greatest show on Earth,’ hungry predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, and crocs ensure that only the strongest survive.
The circuit leads the animals from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania’s south Serengeti (but not into the Crater itself), up through the Serengeti, and across into Kenya’s Masai Mara, and back. The trek is fraught with danger: predators snare young calves, lion prides bring down the slow, bold beasts break legs on steep river slopes, crocodiles eat the stragglers, and the weak and exhausted drown.
The short rains start around early November. A brief time after this, in late November and December, the crowds of the wildebeest movement show up on the short-grass fields of the Serengeti. These are south and east of Seronera, around Ndutu and incorporate the north of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Scattered across these fields, wildebeest and zebra are all over – benefiting from the new, nutritious grasses.
They stay here through January, February and March, with most wildebeest calves brought into the world in a short window around February. Continuously they spread west across these fields, then around April they start their incredible movement north.