Information on Wildebeest Page 2


Wildebeest Information

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Wildebeest Migration and Lifestyle

March and April mark the rainy season as well as the mating season.  Males fight for dominance among the herd.  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.

During May, more than a million wildebeest migrate more than 800 miles from the Serengeti to open woodlands to feed until November.  About 500 wildebeest run at speeds of up to 50 mph make a stampede.  Stampedes are destructive, but also encourage new plant growth and renewal of soil.

The strong bulls in every wildebeest group defend territories that they have marked with their waste and glandular substances emitted from their face and hooves. Young males and bulls without territories form bachelor herds. Bachelors are forced to live on the fringes of the herd.

The Future of the Wildebeest

White-bearded gnu have increased greatly in number in recent years. In 1950, a census revealed approximately 100,000 individuals in the Serengeti region; today about 1.5 million white-bearded wildebeest exist.  Human settlements growing near northern migration routes disrupt natural routes. The grazing and tramping of the grasses by such large herds helps to stimulate grass growth, while their waste provides nutrients for the soil and plants. Wildebeest are also an important food source for predators such as lions and hyenas.



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