Description and Characteristics
The wildebeest is also known as the gnu comes under the family of antelopes as a hooved mammal. They have an appearance and features much like a cross between a cow and a horse.
The Wildebeest is native to Africa and there are two species, the Black Wildebeest or white-tailed gnu and the Blue Wildebeest or brindled gnu. Gnus belong to the family Bovidae, which includes antelopes, cattle, goats and other even-toed horned ungulates.
Female wildebeest (cows) are smaller than the male and both have horns.
The main food source of wildebeests is grasses. The seasonal nature of the African grasslands forces wildebeest to migrate. They like to drink daily when water is available, but can go for a few days without water.
Its habitat consists of grassy plains and open woodlands in southern, central, and eastern Africa. They are especially prolific in the Serengeti National Park.
Size and Lifespan
Wildebeest grow to 1.15–1.4 metres at the shoulder and weigh between 150–250 kilograms. Wildebeest can live more than 20 years.
The gestation period in a female is eight and a half months, producing one offspring. The calf is able to stand within minutes of the birth. In a few days it is able to keep up with the herd.
Predators and Threats
The number of wildebeest has increased steadily over recent years but human habitation leads to less grasslands which threaten their long term numbers. The Wildebeests main predators lions and hyenas.
The Wildebeest Migration in Kenya and Tanzania
The Wildebeest Migration in East Africa, also known as “The Great Migration” takes place between Tanzania's Serengeti National Park and Kenya's Masai Mara and is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet.
Thousands of wildebeest and Zebra’s migrate between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara, constantly driven by their search for fresh grazing. The massive herds are closely followed by predators (Lion, hyena and Cheetah), making the most of every opportunity to catch their next meal.
The precise timing of the annual wildebeest migration depends on the rains. It is a very unpredictable and spontaneous natural event, with calving season taking place in the Serengeti between January and mid-March. The wildebeest migration starts to head towards the Western Serengeti in May or June. The best time to see the migration is generally between June and August when the wildebeest congregate and prepare to cross the famous Grumeti River.
If you are in the Masai Mara you can expect the wildebeest to make their arrival as early as July, but they generally arrive between August & September and remain in the Masai Mara between October & November. Between the end of November and January the wildebeest gradually begin their migration from the Masai Mara back towards the Serengeti.
Our Wildebeest Migration SafarisGreat Wildebeest Migration Lodge Safari, TanzaniaThis safari allows you to witness the very best of Tanzania. You will revel in all the wildlife viewing opportunities on the fabled plains of the Serengeti, around Lake Manyara, Tarangire & Ngorongoro11 Days - USD $5,061Kenya Maasai Mara Safari 3 days3 day Safari to Kenya's most popular game reserve, the Masai Mara. Departing from Nairobi, driving down to the floor of the Great African Rift Valley. Private safari starts any day with minimum 2 pax3 Days - USD $1,051