It is dawn in the Serengeti and fog stretches over the landscape. European White Storks have come en masse in their annual migration back to the northern hemisphere. Their numbers are astounding – flocks appear as swarms, innumerable with large white bodies. In the mornings they sit in the plains waiting for the sun to heat up the air before taking flight. Then later, they catch strong air currents and fly together in tornado-like form. The storks are not the only migration flooding the plains at the moment...
The wildebeest are spread out in the southern grasslands enjoying the rich nutrients brought on by this season’s rain. They head to the Ndutu and Selai plains every year as it is the most ideal place for their annual calving. With short grass and plently of rich nutrients the pregnant cows thrive off the area. Miraculously, they all give birth to their young within a one-month period. Typically taking place in February or March, it is a spectacle that tourists flock to see. Over 80% of cows give birth every year making it a must-see.
Tiny tan beings wobble around as they learn to stand up on their own. Unlike many other species, baby wildebeest are quick on the job and typically take only seven minutes to start running! This is a critical period for the calves. If they fail to keep up with the herds, and more importantly, with their mother, their survival is greatly jeopardized.
Carnivores and scavengers gather around this annual ceremony hoping to feed off the weak or lost and left behind. Wildebeest calves produce a deep grunting sound that their mothers use to identify them. Using strength in numbers, many calves are not eaten, as the predators have too many to feed off of.
Soon, they will be back through Seronera, passing by the FZS African Region Offices. Their tiny tan bodies will become small and brown in color. They will blend in better with the older wildebeest increasing their chances of survival. We look forward to seeing the new arrivals in just a couple months time.
Photos: Felix Borner, R. Frommann
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