I have been to some famous wildlife ecosystems in the world and if I were to describe the landscape of the Serengeti I would say, ‘It’s a never-ending vastness of rolling grasslands with sprinkles of shrubs and trees, and is absolutely brimming with wildlife!’
It is one of the oldest ecosystems on Earth in which the fauna, vegetation, and climate have hardly changed for thousands of years. If you haven’t heard of the great migration of the wildebeest, this is where it takes place, every year, at roughly the same time. The best part is it’s instinctual!
Moving where the gut takes them
Instinct is something all of us animals would be dead without! It’s an unexplainable twitch that keeps us on our toes and not in the digestive tracts of big cats and other predators. You can imagine what would happen if we were just minding our business and a hungry predator showed up!
So, one fine day, a handful of wildebeest get exactly that twitch, and then it’s time to go; over a million wildebeest and thousands of zebras and gazelles leave their home in Tanzania and start a long and treacherous journey to find greener pastures. The smell of grass after a long journey must be unreal!
They follow the rain and head on a 1000km long trek across the Serengeti to the Masai Mara in Kenya. Here they will thrive on the lush green grasslands for as long as it lasts and until they get the urge to move on to other areas. Apart from the constant meetings with predators, like the Serengeti lions, leopards, cheetahs, and the gigantic hungry crocodiles of the Mara River, thousands of animals die of starvation, disease, and exhaustion along the way. The one who lose their lives serve a purpose in the circle of life!
Thriving in the lap of fertile Serengeti
The lands of the Serengeti are one of the most fertile and productive ecosystems on Earth because of the combination of volcanic soil and the ecological impacts of the migration.
The Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only active volcano in the area and ejects natrocarbonatite lavas at around 500 degrees Celsius which hardens midair and then shatters like glass. Being highly soluble in water, this ash combines with rainwater and turns into a calcium-rich material that enriches the soil. Just to give you a few numbers here to give you a mental image, the Park sustains the largest numbers of ungulates and large predators in the world, about 2 million wildebeests, 900,000 Thomson’s gazelles and 300,000 zebras as the dominant herds. Other herbivores that thrive in this gorgeous land are elands, topis, hartebeests, buffalos, giraffes, warthogs, waterbucks, elephants, hippopotamuses, black rhinoceroses, 10 species of primate, and 10 different species of antelope.
This migration is the largest unaltered movement of animals in the world. But, its predictability is becoming impossible with the changes in the regular climate systems all over the world, and this is leading the animals to do things differently and causing a huge stir amongst the humans!
Maintaining the order of the wild
This mass migration is very important to the survival of the species and gives them an advantage over others as they keep moving in search of food and water and avoid diseases that may be rampant in their areas. Water is scarce in the park as the Mara is the only river that flows perennially through the Park, making their movement beneficial for their species and leaving behind precious little for other animals. The major predators here are the lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, and wild dogs. The territorial instinct of these predators keeps them confined to their area and forces them to stay within particular boundaries giving the migrating masses a better chance. Their healthy numbers provide for healthy predators and this way order is maintained.
The wild safaris of Africa and witnessing its many creatures may not be possible for everyone but increasing your knowledge about them takes you a few steps closer to them, isn't it? getting to know the inhabitants and studying its topography is a step in the right direction.
And, that’s exactly what our game African Savannah all about, helping you fulfil your dream of knowing about our mysterious world, one card at a time!