The migration of East Africa’s wildebeest population has been studied for decades, and it shows the natural instinct to survive that man lost long ago. So why do the wildebeest migrate?
From a need to find an ample supply of water and food, the wildebeest move back and forth to areas depending on the season. It is the fact that seasons tend to be unpredictable that makes the migration so fascinating. The wildebeest knows, long before we do, when it’s time to go.
In general, you can watch the migration through May and June, which is East Africa’s rainy season, then back through November and December. The migration isn’t specifically scheduled by month, however, and migrations occur throughout the year, putting the wildebeest at risk of drowning in the rivers they attempt to cross, or becoming victims to the crocodiles that lay in waiting.
Acting as a collective, the wildebeest move in groups of thousands, making decisions as a whole about encountering obstacles they come across.
The migration periods are a perfect time to set out on a safari expedition. Camps are set up in the prime areas to allow safe observation without upsetting the natural order of the herd. While roughly 250,000 wildebeest die during the migration, the strong survive, offering the valuable qualities of the fittest to the next generation.
The wildebeest migration is an overwhelming phenomenon that has only been in practice for about 50 years, marking the changing state of the world we live in and the fortitude of the earth’s wildlife as a real and ever-changing science.