The mysterious wildebeest migration | Global Ideas | DW | 22.06.2017
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Natural Phenomena

The mysterious wildebeest migration

Every year, wildebeest undertake the same epic odyssey through the sprawling Serengeti. But why? Good question. We have the answer.

An old African legend has it that when God created the wildebeest, he used body parts left over from five other species. He took a buffalo's horns, a locust's head, a cow's body and a lion's tail. And because he had some goat legs left over, he used them too. This Einsteinesque body makes the wildebeest, also known as the gnu, a special creature, and a tenacious long-distance runner.

And that tenacity is vital to these eternally peripatetic creatures, who spend their entire lives traversing the sweeping plains of the Serengeti. From Tanzania to Kenya they go, forever taking part in what is known as the Great Migration. Their motivation is the endless search for fresh grazing ground. Once they've eaten their way through one area, they move onto the next. And so it goes on, in a huge circle that sees the 1.3 million animals cover a monumental 600 kilometers annually.

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