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Wilderbeest migration

The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem is among other things famous for the so-called migration where hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebras move from one end of the ecosystem to the other in their search for green forage and water. The dry period might mean starvation and even death for many of the African herbivores (Sinclair 1974, 1977; Beekman & Prins 1989). The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem is home to some 1 million wildebeest (Sinclair 1985), and approximately 30 000 reside in and around the Masaai Mara Reserve.

During the wet season (January to June) the Serengeti migratory wildebeest use the Serengeti National Park as grazing grounds, were birth-giving is synchronized (Sinclair et al. 2000).

By coinciding their birth-giving with the area and period of highest likely rainfall and food availability, wildebeest increase their probability of a successful reproduction ( Murray 1995). Upon the onset of the dry season they start moving through the Western corridor up to the northern parts of the Serengeti and to the Masaai Mara Reserve on the Kenyan side. With its higher rainfall and taller grasslands the Masaai Mara is a favourable refuge during the drier months August to November (Serneels & Lambin 2001). By following the rains the animals can escape starvation. The Loita wildebeest reside in the Loita plains in Kenya (east of the Mara Reserve) during the wetter month. They follow different routes whilst migrating and stay in the Mara during the drought.


Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 05/23/05