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Each year around the same time the 'Great Wildebeest Migration' begins in the Ngorongoro area of the southern Serengeti of Tanzania. A natural phenomenon determined by the availability of grazing. It is January to March when the calving season begins. A time when there is plenty of rain ripened grass available for the 500,000 zebra that precede 1.8 million wildebeest and the following 100,000 plains game.
February marks the start of this great migration, preceding the long rainy season when wildebeest spend their time grazing and giving birth to approximately 500,000 calves within a 2/3-week period, which starts abruptly and is remarkably synchronized. Few calves are born ahead of time, the few that are as much as 6 months out of phase, hardly any will survive. (Estes 1992) The main reason for this being that very young calves are more noticeable to predators when mixed with older calves from earlier in the previous year, and so are easier prey.
The calving grounds of the eastern Serengeti happen to be outside the hunting territories of most of the predators, such as hyena, cheetah, hunting dogs and lions although some losses to these predators can occur.
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