The greatest mammal migration on the face of the earth slowly make its way towards the western corridor and the Grumeti Reserve. Many hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra continue their eternal journey as they follow the rain and the good grazing lands.
Towards the end of this month we began seeing the first signs of the migratory animals’ arrival. The sounds of the wildebeest grunting noisily as the bulls begin sizing one another up and competing for the cows. This time of the year sees the wildebeest entering the rut and the intensity and excitement is captivating.
Driven by the need for water and nutritious grass growth, these animals cover approximately 8 000 km every year as they traverse the greater Serengeti ecosystem. The wildebeest have been calving on the calcium-rich short grass plains of the southern Serengeti during the months of February and March and have now begun to push north and filter in towards the Grumeti Reserve in the western corridor.
The Grumeti River still flows steadily and we have sighted some very large crocodiles along the banks. These canny old reptiles will prove a challenge for the wildebeest as they come into the region. There are many great challenges that these animals need to overcome in order to survive but the crossing of the mighty Grumeti and Mara Rivers remains one of the toughest of all.
The grasslands of the Serengeti depend upon the great herds just as much as the great herds depend upon the grasses. The healthy rejuvenation of the grasses is a result of much grazing, trampling and natural fertilizer dropped by the grazing animals.
I like to think of the wildebeest as the polestar of the Serengeti ecosystem as they are undoubtedly one of the most considerable keystone species, directly engineering the environment around them in such ways that is beneficial to so many other species.