In the largest natural animal migration in the World, 1.7 million white-bearded Wildebeest, 400,000 Thomson’s Gazelle, 300,000 Zebra and 12,000 Eland make a continual annual circuit of the 40,000 square kilometer Serengeti Ecosystem in East Africa, spanning Tanzania and Kenya.
Driven by the climate-powered availability of fresh grass for grazing, they cover around 2000km in the annual circuit. Calving takes place in the Tanzanian Serengeti plains in the south in February-March, and by August the herds have moved north in to Kenya’s Maasai Mara where, hemmed-in by the Ololo Escarpment to the west, they turn east to cross the Mara River in one of the World’s greatest wildlife spectacles.
Here they face not only the physical hazards of the river’s banks, precipitous in places, and its rocky bed, but also fearsome, 19-foot-long Nile Crocodiles in the water, and Lion in the surrounding scrubland.
I had wanted to see the Great Migration for years: it has been made famous in countless wildlife documentaries, most notably in Jonathan and Angela Scott’s Big Cat Diary series: https://www.bigcatpeople.com/
Wild-Eye Destinations and Photography are a South Africa-based specialist photographic safari company who have an unrivalled, long-standing reputation for getting photographers to the perfect positions to illustrate river crossings and the other facets of the Migration. Equally importantly for me, they aim to do so in an ethical way that is sustainable for local animal and human populations.
Useful interactive calendar maps and further information on the Great Migration may be found at: https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/info/serengeti-wildebeest-migration and https://www.discoverafrica.com/migration/map/
I spent a week in Wild-Eye’s Mara River-side tented Enkishui Camp in August 2019, during which we saw a remarkable 12 separate crossings, and I shall illustrate various aspects of this trip in the following series of website posts.