Wildebeests

AFRICAN MIGRATIONS — WildebeestsWe’re in the Serengetti National Park this week, in East Africa. Surrounding us is the greatest congregation of land animals found anywhere in the world: over a million wildebeests, preparing to migrate north to Kenya. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.ambience: WildebeestsWildebeests, also called gnu, are a type of antelope. They’re hoofed mammals standing about four feet tall. Now, wildebeests are luckier than many animals, in that they have managed to maintain a sizable population throughout history, and right now, most of that population is gathered in the Serengetti.According to behavioral biologist Dr. Richard Estes, a wildebeest is dependent upon grass for food, which means it’s also dependent upon rain. These animals will sometimes follow thunderstorms, to graze on the greenery that the storm produces. At the same time, the wildebeests also give something back to their environment. Their grazing and manure stimulate the grasses to constantly re-grow. But the grass also needs rain, and now the wet season in the Serengetti is coming to an end. So it’s time to head north where the plants and water will be more plentiful. While the wildebeests have already begun herding up for their migration, the trip won’t actually start until the rain truly stops, around May or June. At that point, the wildebeests will steadily file north on their journey of over 1000 miles.Most of the million animals making this trip have done so before, some many times, and some scientists speculate that this combined experience creates a kind of a collective consciousness in the herd, helping to lead it in the right direction.I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Wildebeests

In Africa's Serengetti Park, more than a million animals are making their annual trip north, driven by the rains and their own instincts.
Air Date:06/09/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

AFRICAN MIGRATIONS -- WildebeestsWe're in the Serengetti National Park this week, in East Africa. Surrounding us is the greatest congregation of land animals found anywhere in the world: over a million wildebeests, preparing to migrate north to Kenya. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.ambience: WildebeestsWildebeests, also called gnu, are a type of antelope. They're hoofed mammals standing about four feet tall. Now, wildebeests are luckier than many animals, in that they have managed to maintain a sizable population throughout history, and right now, most of that population is gathered in the Serengetti.According to behavioral biologist Dr. Richard Estes, a wildebeest is dependent upon grass for food, which means it's also dependent upon rain. These animals will sometimes follow thunderstorms, to graze on the greenery that the storm produces. At the same time, the wildebeests also give something back to their environment. Their grazing and manure stimulate the grasses to constantly re-grow. But the grass also needs rain, and now the wet season in the Serengetti is coming to an end. So it's time to head north where the plants and water will be more plentiful. While the wildebeests have already begun herding up for their migration, the trip won't actually start until the rain truly stops, around May or June. At that point, the wildebeests will steadily file north on their journey of over 1000 miles.Most of the million animals making this trip have done so before, some many times, and some scientists speculate that this combined experience creates a kind of a collective consciousness in the herd, helping to lead it in the right direction.I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.