Thursday, 30 September 2010

Nature’s Greatest Migration

In a thunderous display these migrating wildebeest spectacularly spray water and plumes of dust behind them as they desperately leap across a river in one of the planet’s greatest mass migrations.

For full story and pictures:

In a spectacle that might be described as nature’s biggest “leap of faith” the animals – part of a gradual migration of more than a million wildebeest – tried to cross the river Mara in Kenya.

Nervous at the prospect of stumbling into huge crocodiles hidden under the surface and big cats stalking them from bank-side bushes, the herd produces an awesome explosion of noise and power as they plunge into the unfamiliar watery environment and dash for the opposite side to safety.

The amazing event was caught on camera by Czech wildlife photographer Vaclav Silha, 46, from who visited the Masai Mara reserve in the hope of getting a once-in-a-lifetime close up of the spectacle.

He said: “The river is approximately 20 meters wide, but the width itself is not as dramatic as the steep banks of the river, from where the animals jump and injure themselves before reaching the ground in their desperation.

“The huge herds flood into the area very quickly and begin to bottleneck at the areas where they can get to the river.

“It’s like a huge mass of adrenaline fuelled bodies that is always changing.

“The numbers keep fluctuating and herds relocating along the river and taking their leap of faith at different points.

“The individual herds can contain as many as 10,000 animals and many herds can converge on the river at the same point.

“The whole process is very stressful. It’s like the most chaotic traffic jam you have ever seen.

“Even crocodiles back away as the main body of the herd is passing, through fear they will be trampled to death.

“They crocs wait for the beginning or the end for lonely, injured or young and vulnerable animals.”

The animals live in a continual cycle of following fresh grass with their movements dictated by the weather.

In January and February the females give birth to as many as 40,000 calves within three weeks.

Immediately able to follow their parents on foot, the youngsters join the endless cycle moving between Tanzania and Kenya – crossing rivers in their pass with a safety in numbers approach.

The Mara river stretches into both countries.

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