What Drives The Great Wildebeest Migration?

Andrew Beck All Authors, Andrew 2 Comments

As many of our fans and community members know, the great migration becomes a major focus for Wild Eye from August to October each year as we set up the Wild Eye Mara Camp on the banks of the Mara River in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Scenes of massive herds of wildebeest moving across the open plains and of course crossing the mighty Mara River are synonymous with the wildebeest migration but what actually drives the process and where does it all take place? Lets find out…

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What Drives The Great Wildebeest Migration?

The simple answer is rainfall and grass growth!

The wildebeest follow in the wake of the rains that fall across the Serengeti ecosystem (which spills over from Tanzania into Kenya and includes the Masai Mara) and nourishes the land. As a result of these rains, the seemingly endless plains are transformed into a sea of green as short grasses sprout up.

These shorter grasses contain higher levels of protein, sodium, calcium and phosphorus, and provide the wildebeest herds with some of the best quality graze on the african continent.

Phosphorus is a crucial element for all life forms, but is particularly important for lactating female wildebeest. As a result during the rainy season, wildebeest select grazing areas that contain particularly high phosphorus levels.

The wildebeest herds essentially follow the rains as they fall across the ecosystem in search of the best quality grazing.

Where does the Wildebeest Migration take place?

The southernmost extent of the Serengeti Ecosystem is generally considered to be the Ndutu plains and the lower northern slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater highlands. From here, the system stretches north, across the Tanzanian border into Kenya where it reaches is northernmost extremity of the Masai Mara National Reserve, spilling over into the surrounding conservation areas.

It is quite convenient that the calving season coincides with the first couple of months of the year so that is where we will begin our breakdown of the monthly movements of the wildebeest. It is important to note at this point that the wildebeest migration is a natural phenomenon and these monthly breakdowns are based on historical trends!


An important note here is that although the wildebeest cross the Grumeti River in June, these crossings are not nearly as spectacular as the crossings witnessed along the Mara River as the Grumeti is not a continuous stretch of water at this time of year.

The thrill and excitement of watching one of natures most incredible wildlife spectacles unfold before your eyes is something that you will cherish for years to come. The prime location of the Wild Eye Mara camp (on the banks of the Mara River) combined with friendly staff, expert guides and dedicated photographic facilitators ensures that this once in a lifetime safari exceeds your every expectation.

Witness the great wildbeest migration for yourself!

Our 6 Night Masai Mara Migration Safari will give you the best chance to see one of natures true spectacles and during this trip our goal is to capture the drama and visual intensity as more than a million wildebeest cross the Mara River as a part of their never ending journey. Join us and change the way you see the world!

Andrew Beck

About the Author

Andrew Beck

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Very few people can tell you what their passion in life is. Even fewer will be able to tell you that what they do for a living is in fact their passion. My love for the bush and conservation took me on journey which would not only allow me to explore the continent which fascinates me so much, but to share my passion for photography and conservation with others. Be sure to check out my my website and instagram account.

Comments 2

  1. Nicky Classen

    Thank-you for your article/blog – it’s really informative and answers some of the questions I had on the Gnu’s.

    1. Post
      Andrew Beck

      Thanks so much Nicky, glad it helped and has answered your questions. Its an incredible phenomenon when you start to delve a bit deeper and understand what drives their movements.

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