The Great Migration

The Daily Prompt is “Twilight Zone“.

Photo Credit Danny James

Photo Credit Danny James

The Great Migration is a cycle of life and death, played out on the plains of the Serengeti (in Tanzania) and Masai Mara (in Kenya). Some 1.4 million wildebeest, 250,000 Burchell’s zebra and a smattering of trailing Thomson’s gazelle make this year-long round trip. In fact, around 250,000 Wildebeest and 30,000 zebra perish in this tough trek, mainly younger ones. Along the way, many migrating animals become prey to predators including lion, cheetah, crocodile and hyena.

We were one of the lucky people who actually witnessed this event. The Wildebeest would approach the river that they had to cross in response to a lack of drinking water. There appeared to be a leader who, to me at least, was surveying the crossing for predators. He would approach, look around, sniff the air, and taste the  water. The first couple of times he, along with the rest of the heard just made a circle and returned in a few minutes. What he was seeing was crocodiles in the river and at least 3 lions on the  far side who were also staring at him. Once the stampede began the sound was unbelievably loud with snorts and the water splashing as the Wildebeest began the crossing. Once the leader started across it was like an auto expressway at rush hour. Suddenly a crocodile sprang out of the water and grabbed the Wildebeest and drowned him. Other crocodiles join the fray. The Wildebeest far outnumbered the crocodiles and most made it to the other side. On that side were waiting a dozen or so lions who joined in the feast. The squealing sound was surreal. While having the appearance of a frenzy, recent research has shown a herd of  Wildebeest possesses what is known as a “swarm intelligence”, whereby the animals systematically explore and overcome the obstacle as one.
This picture was taken on our recent vacation in Kenya. In fact on our last day. Our guide himself had not seen anything like this. You think you are alone on the large plains of the Serengeti and Masi Mara but the tour jeeps are in constant contact with each other. Once we found these Wildebeest getting ready to cross our guide contacted other tours and within minutes there were around 10 jeeps loaded with tourist like us. Guides are below:
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