By Ben Leshau
The Wildebeest Migration is an annual spectacle that attracts thousands of both local and international tourists that usually flock Masai Mara to witness millions of gnus taking suicidal plunge across Mara river.
The migration normally takes place between June and July offers a tourism boom to both Kenya and Tanzania.
However, unlike last year when the bearded gnus crossed Mara river in June, this year’s migration delayed for many factors.
According to experts the delay was occasioned by factors such as pasture, water availability as well as some human activities.
Augustine Ajuoga area Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)Deputy Warden told County Press that the gnus normally migrate based on instincts.
“Usually they breed in the Serengeti plains in Tanzania and once they deplete the forage on the other side, driven by natural instincts they cross to the Mara side in search of pasture and water,” explained Ajuoga.
The reason given why the wildebeests were stuck in the Serengeti since last year was that they had not depleted the
pasture because of prolonged rains leading to lush growth of
Gnus usually migrate in millions using the vantage of their numbers to protect themselves from predators but as dictated by the law of nature-survival for the fittest, not all arrive at the destination.
Veteran Safari guide Felix Migoya explained that the migration is normally delayed by the burning of grass on both side of the
“Anytime migration nears each of the parks Serengeti/Mara wants to retain the gnus thus burn grass to allow regeneration of the fresh grass which is always the gnus’ favourite and that his usually delays the annual event,” he asserts.
He however revealed that the wildebeests managed to cross to Kenya last year due to climate change that saw grass drying on the Tanzanian side giving Kenya an edge to host the gnus.
Mara/Serengeti Ecosystem Coordinator Mr Nick Murero opines that the delay was due to human activities on the Kenyan side.
He cited human interferences of the wildlife corridors through
demarcation of lands and change of land use which has led to rampant fencing in areas bordering wildlife conservancies.
“We are losing it as Kenya because Serengeti is well guarded and wildebeests roam freely and enjoy pasture and
water,” he said.
Watching wildebeests plunging into the Mara River in thousands is a sight to behold as the crocodiles also sharpen their teeth
to snatch a piece of any lazy wildebeest for a meal.
The wildebeests are also a favourite meal to predators such as lions, cheetahs and leopards who eagerly await for them to arrive and hunt them down.
By Ben Leshau