The peak of this Great Migration occurs in the months of June and July. During this period, herbivores undertake a journey of more than 3,000 kilometers over the vast plains in which up to 4,000 tons of grass are consumed per day. Around one and a half million wildebeest and 750,000 zebras, along with a smaller number of Grant’s gazelles, Thomson’s gazelles, elands and impalas, start a journey marked by risks and sense of adventure. And we, photographic predators, want to go after them.
Reaching the west limit of the country, the groups of animals meet over the great natural border that divides Tanzania and Kenya, the Mara River. And so it begins, this spectacular show. But not everything in the garden is rosy. For the migrating species, this journey entails a survival challenge: crossing the waters is not an easy task due to the depths of the river and the streams that take a toll on them, and especially, the crocodiles that await anxious at this time of the year to hunt their prey. This is why this process is not a one-day task but a journey that takes months.
The crowds of wildebeests that gather at the bed of the river are immersed in a contradictory feeling: a state of panic but also urgency that make them doubt when facing the challenge. This is the best season to visit the Maasai Mara Park, since we will surely find thousands of animals galloping along the plains, while predators reveal themselves while hunting the many prey that this phenomenon provides them.
Watching in silence these herds of herbivores doubtfully wandering by the river is a thrilling experience. We can even feel the fear and pent-up energy that this natural scenario emits, a spectacle that seems to have been taken from a documentary. If we coincide in space and time, we will be able to see how they go back and forward from the savannah to the riverline over and over again until they have the courage to finally cross towards more fertile lands.
However, herbivores lose protagonism when predators enter the scene. By the river shore, lions, hyenas, and leopards wait for these trembling animals to be off-guard while they try to cross the river. And, among reeds and areas covered with mud, crocodiles pride themselves on having a guaranteed hunt as they prey on the weakest and slowest species that dare to cross the waters.
Whether it is for hunger, the impious river currents, or for the predators, approximately 5% of the species migrating die every year. But what is fascinating is that, among all that chaos and desperation, we will be able to see those who made it through adversity and reach the other shore. Just as if we were watching a live movie, we start to feel relieved when we see this victorious accomplishment.
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