What goes on in a gnu’s brain?

What goes on in a gnu’s brain? This Migration Season reinforces just how much these animals live up to their collective noun – an implausibility – as they continue to behave in perplexing ways.


African Safari Co. - Great Migration Safaris
The endless migration herds stretch over the plains


The Migration seems to have gone south, quite literally. The heavy rains of a few days ago seem to have confused the mega herds that had streamed into the Mara Triangle. The anticipation grew as they slowly mowed their way north towards the river, setting the stage for what we expected would be the most spectacular crossings of the season. Then the heavens opened consecutively for a few days. Storms raging from the north left areas of the Mara Triangle waterlogged – and the herds decided to start heading back.


Luxury African Great Migration Safaris Experts
Hundreds of thousands of animals moving in sync


The big question in everyone’s mind right now is, what prompted the sudden turnaround? I have a theory. Not long ago, there were a large number of fires around the Serengeti border – including the southern parts of the Sand River and the southern regions of the Mara Triangle, though the bigger, more expansive fires were in Tanzania. When the first of the big herds arrived in the area, the landscape was scorched and devoid of grazing. The wildebeest thundered up quickly into the northern parts of the Triangle where there was plenty of long grass to eat. But while they are happy to eat long grass, they prefer shorter green shoots.


African Safari Co. - Kenya Safaris
Trying to anticipate and predict their movements is a fool’s errand


While the Migration continued to flood north, we had a period of consecutive afternoon and overnight showers. The burnt areas suddenly exploded with life and fresh green grass covered the southern Mara and northern Serengeti. The wildebeest reacted almost immediately, turning south and marching down to the border towards the burnt areas where they have now spread out like ants dotted across the landscape.


Now the question that remains is just how long the short, green grass will last? And when it is finished, will they turn back and move north again into the Triangle, or will they continue south, into Tanzania?


Kenya Family Safaris - African Safari Co. - Angama Mara
The questions are endless when it comes to the Migration and the answers equally so


Great Migration Safaris - Maasai Mara
After all the chaos we don’t blame this zebra for taking a dip in this peaceful little pool


This new development in the herd’s movement clearly depicts the impact humans have across the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. The burning of wide expanses can have a negative effect on some of the smaller species that heavily depend on the cover of grassland. But controlled burning is important as it helps maintain open savannahs by keeping thorny scrub and trees at bay.


African Safari Co, - Angama Mara Kenya Safari Camp
The sheer scale of the migrating herds illustrate the expansiveness of the Mara


African Safari Co, - Travel Experts
It is remarkable that the ecosystem can support such a large and sudden influx of animals, even for a short while


The smaller herds that crossed the Sand River and moved towards the eastern side of the Mara River are now crossing in small batches into the Triangle. Unlike the Sand River crossings, the waters here are infested with crocodiles and we have seen some interesting and successful attempts by the crocodiles in securing a meal.


African Great Migration Safaris
With the mega herds out of play, the smaller herds have held the spotlight as they continue to cross the Mara River


Great Migration Safaris to Kenya - African Safari Co.
They have held us captive with endless drama


On the banks of the river, dangers are still ever-present with leopards and lions waiting for an opportunity to strike. Sammy our head guide was very fortunate to capture some beautiful shots of a leopard stalking its prey.


Africa Wildlife Safaris Experts
A sneaky leopard is another factor to account for in their life-or-death equation


Speculating on what will unfold in the coming weeks, our guides are fairly convinced the herds will turn back north sooner rather than later. How soon? That is still anyone’s guess. One thing is for certain – we haven’t yet had our fill of these single-minded mammals swarming across the Triangle. The predators, too, will surely be hoping they return. This is without a doubt one of the most unusual migrations in years.


Luxury African Migration Safaris
Crocodile, lions, leopards, you name it –the migrating herds have to overcome it all





Get on the list

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest safari news, exclusive offers and more!

National Parks
and Reserves

Explore the Parks