Dark clouds are gathering. It is time to chase the rains that replenish the dry earth into fertile grazing lands. The wildebeests are wise and they must head northwards to the Mara before they run out of forage. They must continue to nourish their young ones and survive for a journey of nearly three thousand kilometers.
In Tanzania, this movement is epic. Travelers get to watch nearly a million wildebeests joined by thousand other zebras that have just given birth in the month of March. The herds will first move towards Lake Victoria and then towards Mara in Kenya around July. In between these two zones, a mystery unfolds. Some of these herbivorous relish the roughage in plenty and look forward to more…for some perhaps, it is their Last Supper. An exciting game drive begins.
The smooth journey is often intervened by obstacles, many unseen yet shockingly expected. The trimmed grass and droppings of these animals make the soil fertile is an inviting cue for hungry cats that have been long waiting for a feast. With countless wildebeests and zebras passing during the day and night, it is time to fetch some delicious meal for the starving clan. For the predators, it is time to work as a team. For the herbivores, their instinct, valor and strength to run, decide their destiny.
Known for speed, the cheetahs must be opportunistic. They need to quickly consume their share of protein before it becomes another animal’s meal. It is not easy to chase the prey even if the cheetah can run for 60 miles per hour. The wildebeest is lean and runs with all the energy acquired from its ongoing journey where it feeds on grass continuously. The vigilant cheetah can catch the calf in minutes. Then they quickly target for another.
It is the lioness in the Serengeti, who is often seen hunting with her pride. On an average, lions feed on a prey of 50-300 kgs. Rather than hunting alone, these cats are often spotted chasing the prey together and are patient enough for the right time to attack, even if that calls for a wholesome feast during the night.
The wildebeests can never predict who is watching over them. The least they would wish is for hyenas, known to be their natural enemy and can be so ferocious that they can chase away leopards and lions. Often seen hunting in groups of ten or more, with their hearts twice as large as the lions and extremely strong jaws, hyenas can eat up to 70% of their total prey without allowing any other animal in its territory.
Despite this discomforting journey, several other wildebeest survive and continue to chase for their life. In fact according to reports from the African Wildlife Foundation, wildebeest population in Africa has increased from 250,000 in 1960 up to 1.5 million today. This mystic great migration is packed with action, adventures and the journey never ends. With more dangers and merciless attacks waiting and an exciting journey of survivors awaits for you in our third episode.