Wildebeest, often described as a cross between the body of an antelope, the tail of a horse, and the head of a buffalo, are vastly important to ecosystem diversity. Since the 1960s, the population of migratory wildebeest across the Serengeti wildebeest has remained relatively stable (~1.3 million individuals) after recovery from the virus rinderpest. At the same time, other “non-migratory” individuals, like those across the Mara and Loita Plains have declined precipitously. In some areas, as much as 98%. The concern from ecologists globally is the long-term sustainability of these populations. I continue to track individuals in these populations with partners to better understand how they’re responding to rapid changes and hopefully, provide scientifically-based information to make informed decisions.
Reports from researchers indicate that the historic migration has been disrupted this year. It’s unclear why, but potential factors include fires in Tanzania or shifts in resources, which can make migration non-advantageous. The attached picture shows members of the population that did migrate, grazing across the Mara Plains in the Olare Orok Conservancy. Go “Beests”!