The sheer number of animals in Mara plains during the Migration is amazing !
The wildebeest and the zebras can be seen moving from early dawn.
They wander aimlessly.
They move in small groups.
They either eat grass or walk or sometimes do both.
Or , often , just stand still !
Small groups frequently merge and slowly , but steadily long queues are formed .
Now , they have an aim – to reach one of the innumerable crossing points in the bank of Mara river.
Then , they gather in one of the crossing point in large numbers , groups may sometimes have less than 100 , sometimes 2000 – 3000
They stay there – making huge noise , raising dust , drinking water from the river , walking up and down , communicating or fighting with others in the group,
A few ‘ leaders ‘ come and have a feel of the river – may be looking for presence of crocs , may be checking the warmth of water .
Nothing may happen , sometimes .
They will stay there for hours , and then slowly back track , postponing the crossing for another day.
Or , sometimes , one of the ‘ leaders ‘ , all of a sudden , as if instigated by some evil force ,
jumps and takes the plunge . And starts swimming across the river !
Once the first wildebeest lands in water – that event triggers a chain reaction in the rest !
The others quickly jump – without any hesitation !
And then , the frenzy begins !
It is total chaos !
There is a mad rush – to cross the river and to reach the other side safely !
Though they are mainly afraid of the being killed by crocs in the river ,
it is this mad rush that causes most of the deaths of wildebeests –
many get injured and disabled when they jump over others in the rush and are drowned,
the strong currents in the river may kill some .
The rush continues !
May last for a few minutes . Sometimes, for an hour or so !
Sometimes chaotic . Sometimes well- coordinated !
Some die . Some are injured.
Some are disabled . Some are drowned.
In the end of it all , the fittest survives – reaches the other side and quickly settles down to the business –
business of feeding on grass in the new place !
Some are not that lucky .
They become food for the ever- vigilant, huge , hungry crocs !
And the story goes on and on…