by Michael Lorentz
The short grass plains of the Serengeti are the best grazing in Africa. They’re the foodbasket of the migration: the verdant grass grows on rich soil laid down by volcanic ash.
Right now, the wildebeest are dropping their calves en masse, thousands of them. There’s something very moving about sitting in the middle of these plains watching life begin.
Within ten minutes, the new calf is on its feet. Within half an hour it’s running with the herd. If it can’t do that, it’s finished. An early lesson in survival of the fittest
There is so much food around in the shape of baby wildebeest that predators are drawn to the calving like magnets. Hyenas might travel 3 or 4 days non-stop to take advantage of the bounty, covering hundreds of miles. And there is so much predation from cheetah and lion that carcasses litter the plains for vultures and jackals to fight over.
It sounds tough — but nature is entirely unsentimental.
The herds will move on with or without their new calves within days, following the sound of thunder that signals rain and new life elsewhere on the plains.