The great wildebeest migration between the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya is the most amazing natural wildlife spectacle on earth. The Kenya/Tanzania border passes between the two parks. However, there is no fence between the parks and this allows free movement of the animals. Each year, the wildebeest migrate in a clock-wise cycle over 1800 miles in search of greener pastures and quality water. This migration, brought by mother nature is a long and tiring journey, which has no end nor beginning. This migration movement involves over 1.5m wildebeest, about 200,000 zebras, gazelles, antelopes and the big five (elephant, lion, rhino, leopard, buffalo).
Breeding time – Between the months of December to March is the Wildebeest Migration in Kenya best time to visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Southern Serengeti. The ripened grass in the rolling plains is an ideal home for the wildebeest. This is the breeding time where, over eighty percent of the wildebeest give birth. The calving season hardly ends without risks. It is a period of great advantage to the big cats such as the lion, leopards, cheetah and the hyena. Most calves are killed by the predators while the weak ones die during the pilgrimage. This is the best time to watch the predators catch their prey as you do some photography.
By the end of March, the remaining grass can hardly sustain the great herd of wildebeest. The wildebeest migrate to the Serengeti western corridor. The animals feed on the long ripened green grass and the woodlands in this area from April to May. This is the season of the long rains in East Africa. During this time, it becomes completely inconvenient for tourists to travel due to bad roads.
May and early June is the wildebeest mating season. By the end of June, the animals have completely eaten the green grass. The animals are forced to move on to northern Serengeti. On their way, many animals are killed by territorial predators while others are attacked by huge crocodiles as the cross the Grumeti river.
The wildebeest migrate further crossing the Kenya-Tanzania border. The major challenge to the great herd of wildebeest is crossing the Mara river. The animals must cross the deadly river to avoid starvation. The Mara river crossing is the most dramatic event especially to photographers, film and documentary makers. Sometimes, the animals may choose crossing where the river is shallow and majority of the wildebeest make it to the Mara plains. Other times the animals may choose to cross where the river is deep drowning hundreds of animals. Most of the animals drowned are the old, weak and the young calves. Others are killed by the hippos and the crocodiles who await them along the river bank.
The wildebeest scatter all over the Mara plains to feed on the green grass. By November, there is no more to sustain the wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, antelope and the lest of the herbivorous. This is the on set of the short rains in the Serengeti and there is plenty of grass. The journey begins back to the Serengeti Conservation area and the calving season begins. The annual wildebeest migration is a natural event and, timing varies year by year, month by month.