Imagine. You are lying in the grass in the east African savannah, watching wildebeest fording a shallow river. You can hear the funny grunting noises they make, and as they pass by, you can feel the impact of their hooves on the ground and smell their rich animal smell. You see their kicking heels, their beautiful sleek bodies. Then you look up, and you realize that the herd stretches as far as you can see, that the plain is dark with wildebeest. If you were to wait for them all to pass, you would be there for days.
The sight is magnificent, primal and profoundly moving. It is the wildebeest migration.
Every year, more than a million wildebeest, along with hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, move through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of Tanzania and Kenya, following the rains. In the course of a year, an individual wildebeest may cover as much as 2,100 kilometers. (That’s more than 1,300 miles — which is further than the distance between New York and New Orleans.) It is the last great migration on Earth.
But for how much longer? A large part of the migration takes place within the vast Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and there are reports that the Tanzanian government is preparing to build a major road through the northern part of the park: through a designated wilderness area, through the migration route....