Wildebeest – Star of the Migration

Wildebeest Migration


"Wildebeest Mara crossing"

Mara crossing


The annual movement of blue wildebeest, zebra and other antelope across the borders of Kenya and Tanzania is, without doubt, one of Africa’s most breathtaking spectacles. The search for food and water results in a clockwise migration through the Serengeti National Park and the Masai Mara National Reserve. In the region of 1.2 million wildebeest make this 1800 mile (2880 Km) circuit every year losing some 250 000 of their travelling “beests” along the way.

Wildebeest young are all born during a three week period (an estimated 400,000 each year), and they are able to run alongside their mothers shortly after birth.  This overwhelming supply of potential prey means higher numbers of predators in the Parks and you can generally see a healthy number of lions, leopards, hyenas, crocodiles and vultures during the time the wildebeest pass through.

Started in the Sixties

One of the most fascinating facts I came across is that this natural phenomenon only started in the 1960s and there seems to be no scientific reason for the migration, except for a possible change in rainfall patterns. Personally, I believe that this ‘clown of the grasslands’ never needed a reason other than the love of running, leaping and clowning around. One animal decided to go for a walk and the others followed….

Should they ever decide to stop walking, or migrate to another area, the spectacle will move or cease to exist and life in the Mara will drastically change. Not only for the natural life cycles of the resident predators but for the human subjects that make their own personal annual migration to watch them walk.


"Blue Wildebeest"

Blue Wildebeest

"Wildebeest wildscape"


"Mass of bodies"

Mass of bodies

"Wildebeest Follow"


"Wildebeest Crossing"


"Dust crossing"

Dust crossing

"And the Wildebeest just kept coming"

and they just kept coming

"Lone wildebeest"

Lone wildebeest

"Crossing survivors"

Crossing survivors


"Leap of faith"

Leap of faith

"Greener grass"

Greener grass


"Horn and hoof"

Horn and hoof

"young one"

young one

"Slippery ascent"

Slippery ascent

"Not all make it"

Not all make it



"Morning crossing"

Morning crossing

"Black and white crossing"

Black and white crossing

"Waiting storks"

Waiting storks

"Wildebeest that Made it"

Made it

"Wildebeest - Star of the show"

Star of the show


Species Details

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Bovidae

Subfamily: Alcelaphinae

Genus: Connochaetes

Species : Connochaetes taurinus – blue wildebeest


The name “Blue Wildebeest” derives from a very blue sheen to its short-haired hide, differentiating this species from the plainer black genus member Black Wildebeest. The name “gnu” originates from the Khoikhoi name for these animals, “gnou”. The Blue Wildebeest is sometimes called Brindled Gnu. The (plural of Wildebeest is denoted as Wildebeest, Wildebeests or Wilderbai). Other common terms include gnu ( /nuː/or /njuː/) and nyumbu (Swahili).

All Reference material and information gathered from the public domain.


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