What Causes the Frequent Migration of Animals in Africa? (2023)

Although there are exceptions, the vast majority migrate in search of better living conditions. Some animal migrations occur as a result of economic hardship, while others are motivated by the desire to escape poverty.

To minimize human impacts, various initiatives are in place to create migration corridors and wildlife-friendly fencing. One of these projects, AMIREG, is focused on understanding the reasons for migration and aims to improve financial incentives. This post will answer the questionwhat causes the frequent migration of animals in Africa.

What Causes The Frequent Migration Of Animals In Africa?

Not only do humans migrate but also birds, mammals, and amphibians do. Their migration patterns are significant and impact Africa’s demographics, trade, and investment. Furthermore, these patterns have a strong economic impact, leading to increased numbers of refugees. But there are also social, cultural, and political issues that play a role in animal migration. In this article, we’ll explore the causes of this, as well as its consequences of it.

What Causes the Frequent Migration of Animals in Africa? (1)

Migrations have numerous environmental benefits. For example, the group of animal eats tonnes of grass every day. As they migrate, they digest the grass, redistribute nutrients, and serve as a natural fertiliser for many plant species. Their ever-moving diet helps grasses grow more quickly, which in turn leads to increased forage production.

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Other reasons include seasonal and environmental changes. Seasonal climate differences create huge differences in solar energy received in different parts of the world. Because of this, many of them migrate to take advantage of favorable conditions for a short period of time. For example, the bar-tailed godwit, which breeds at high latitudes, migrates thousands of miles every year, taking advantage of abundant food during early summer and long days.

But this change may make the population animals’ change

Which Land They Migrate?

Wildebeest and zebras are among the many African animals migrating. Each year, they cover 500 miles and face a number of dangers. Predators, thirst and exhaustion will claim the lives of one in six wildebeest. Despite these hazards, half a million new calves will be born during this migration. Wildebeest migrate all year long, with the highlights of the migration season being crossing the Mara River and calving season in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

This period varies depending on the food and water supply in the region. In the southern Serengeti, migration takes place from November through early May, and the herds travel north through the Western Corridor in June. On the other hand, the migration of zebras takes place in the Masai Mara in late November through December. When the Serengeti experiences rains, the herds head back to the plains.

Where Is The Largest Animal Migration In Africa?

When it comes to animal migrations, where can you find the biggest? The Serengeti plains in Tanzania host massive circular treks by the wildebeest. In contrast, the plains of Botswana are lunar-like, covered in green grass, with ungulates grazing in huge herds. During this time, the migration of the zebra in Botswana begins and ends in Namibia.

(Video) Animal migration by Iain Couzin

The annual Great Migration, also known as the Wildebeest, takes place when two million wildebeest and 700,000 gazelles cross the Masai Mara in Tanzania and Kenya. This natural event is hailed as the largest wildlife show on earth and is one of the seven natural wonders of Africa. To witness it, make your trip to Tanzania a summer or winter getaway. While visiting the Serengeti, don’t forget to go to Masai Mara and observe the colossal migration.

In Northern Zambia, Kasanka National Park is a hive of activity for fruit bats. It is the home to over ten million of these bats. Their loud chatter attracts them to the region, where they feed on fruit and spread their feces. During their migration, they also distribute seeds throughout the area, assisting in land regeneration. There is no doubt that these bats are an important part of the African ecosystem.

What Is The Main Reason For The African Animal Migrating

In the summer months, the Serengeti herds spend most of their year grazing in the southern Serengeti. During the dry season, they spend several months trekking the Masai Mara plains. In November, the alnimal migration ends and they move back to the southern Serengeti. There are many reasons why this migration occurs.

The Great Migration takes place every year. More than 1.5 million wildebeest, 400,000 zebra, and 12,000 eland make the long, 800-mile trek from the southern Serengeti to the Masai Mara. Environmental factors and animal behavior determine the timing of the Great Migration. Every year, the migration takes place, with the herds moving from droughts to areas of water and good grazing.

While these timings are generally followed, there are exceptions to this rule. In November 2013, rain in northern Serengeti caused a temporary halt to the migration. The wildebeest turned around and stayed in Kenya’s Masai Mara for three weeks. They then resumed their southbound migration in 2014.

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Why Do Wildebeests In Africa Migrate?

Every year, the wildebeests start their migration to the western savanna, a trek of more than 800 kilometers. They leave their grazing areas in late April, early May, and early June. As they move toward the Western Corridor, their first obstacle is the Grumeti River. Fortunately, there are ways to watch the migration from a distance. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

The main calving grounds are in southern Serengeti, where they spend the winter. Although the southern Serengeti does not have year-round water and grazing, it is the best place to view wildebeest in calving season. You’ll be able to watch the animal crossing rivers and gathering on the plains. The migration is typically most spectacular in February and March, when the wildebeest calves are born and begin migrating.

Early March to early May is considered the off-season for wildlife observation. The rains during this time cause the roads to become impassable and they migrate to grassier areas. However, this doesn’t mean you should miss this opportunity to view these herds in the southern Serengeti. The rainy time begins in November, and the herds go southward in early January. During this time, they can be noisy.

When Can You See The Great Migration In Africa?

When can you see the great migration in Africa’s Serengeti National Park? Between March and April, the herds begin their long trek north across the central and western Serengeti plains. They begin to spread out and split into different groups as the grass becomes scarcer, but you can still see huge herds if you know where to look.

The Great Migration, also known as the Wildebeest Migration, is an annual movement of millions of wildebeest and other wildlife species through Kenya and Tanzania. The animal faces dangers of terrestrial predators and crocodile-infested waters. Nevertheless, this spectacular event is worth seeing at least once in your life. There is no better way to experience the wonder than to plan your trip accordingly and catch the Great Migration in action.

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Why Do They Migrate In Winter?

Some of them travel seasonally to the warm water of the Equator to avoid the harsh winters, such as zebra. Zebra do across the southern African continent in herds of up to three million each year. In their migration, they cross the vast Makgadikgadi Pans, which are lunar-like expanses of green grass. Others, like hyenas and a variety of birds, move further south to warmer waters, including the Gulf of Mexico.

In Africa, the migration patterns of the animal are well-known. In Kenya, for example, thousands of lesser and greater flamingos travel to the warm soda lakes of Bogoria and Nakuru to breed. They feed on algae and tiny shrimp in these lakes and wade across the water in their distinctive feeding posture. It’s fascinating to watch these incredible the animals. In fact, some scientists suggest that the flamingos may be using memory to guide their migration.

Many scientists believe that animals moving to avoid harsh weather conditions. This is one explanation for why some species move from a place to another one, and others are not. Some are simply more resilient to cold climates than others, and some don’t. For example, some are capable of surviving the winter without migrating, and will just adapt to the conditions. Hibernation is the process by which the animal reduces their body temperature, heart rate, and breathing rate. The most famous hibernating animals are brown bears, which spend half their lives sleeping.

How Does Migration Affect Others?

How does migration affect other animals in East Africa? It is an ongoing circular movement throughout the year, with highlights including crossing the Mara River in July, calving season in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in February, and the migration of millions of Flamingos to Bogoria and Nakuru lakes in April. These pink-colored birds fly in enormous V formations, highlighting the incredible variety of color in their feathers.

One major cause of this change is human settlements. In some parts of East Africa, migration routes are being altered and cut off entirely. Farms are being expanded, and roads, fences, and structures are causing wildlife to become confused and turn back. This is bad news for the animal that depend on these natural migration routes. To stop this, governments should purchase more land to protect natural routes. And, of course, they should also protect their habitats from development.

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Migration is also an adaptive response to seasonal variation. Large differences in solar energy receive each hemisphere during the year, and many species take advantage of these conditions for brief periods. One example is the bar-tailed godwit, which breeds in high latitudes and exploits abundance and long days in early summer. Those two factors contribute to the evolution of social hierarchies and advanced tools in humans.


Why do animals in Africa migrate? ›

Every year, millions of hooves drum against Africa's plains, raising dust and devouring kilometres as wildebeest, zebra and gazelles trek across the Serengeti and the Masai Mara. Called the Great Migration, their odyssey will lead them from drought to water and good grazing, though the way will be fraught with peril.

What causes the frequent migration of animals? ›

Animal migration is the large-scale movement of a species from one place to another. Most species migrate during specific seasons, in search of food or water, or for mating reasons.

What is the African big animal migration? ›

What is the Great Migration? Throughout the year, East Africa's wide-open grasslands are the setting for the Great Migration as millions of wildebeests, Burchell's zebras, antelopes and other herd animals make the trek from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya.

Why is there so much wildlife in Africa? ›

The most direct answer regarding the survival of large animals in Africa is that its vast forested areas gave them ample areas to hide from man (until recent centuries).

Which species started migrating from Africa? ›

Homo ergaster (or African Homo erectus) may have been the first human species to leave Africa. Fossil remains show this species had expanded its range into southern Eurasia by 1.75 million years ago.

Why do animals migrate in Kenya? ›

The Great Migration in a nutshell

In short, the biggest mammal trek in the world follows the rains. The herds travel 800 kilometers clockwise in a circle through the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems in search of greener, mineral rich pastures and water.

What are three reasons animals migrate? ›

Many birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans and insects migrate, and they usually do it to find food, a safe place to breed, or a suitable climate.

What is the common cause of migration? ›

Some people move in search of work or economic opportunities, to join family, or to study. Others move to escape conflict, persecution, terrorism, or human rights violations. Still others move in response to the adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters, or other environmental factors.

What are the causes of increased migration? ›

The Top 10 causes of Migration can be noted as:
  • For Education purposes. Studying abroad has gained tremendous interest among youngsters. ...
  • For Career Enhancement. ...
  • Overpopulation. ...
  • Social and religious reasons. ...
  • Poverty. ...
  • Better Healthcare. ...
  • Political causes. ...
  • War or Conflict Zones.
Dec 22, 2022

What are the migration patterns in Africa? ›

African migration has been on a steady upward trajectory for the past two decades. The record level of over 40 million African migrants represents a 30-percent increase from 2010. Given continuing strong push factors, that trend can be expected to continue in 2023.

What month is animal migration in Africa? ›

July through November is traditionally considered the best time to view the Great Migration. Between July and August, the wildebeest move en masse into Kenya's Maasai Mara, crossing the Mara River in staggering numbers.

What animals mostly migrate? ›

Familiar migrants include many birds; hoofed animals, especially in East Africa and in the Arctic tundra; bats; whales and porpoises; seals; and fishes, such as salmon.

What is happening to the animals in Africa? ›

Climate Change Is Making Some Species Of Animals Shape-Shift

Across Africa, national parks that are home to myriad wildlife species such as lions, elephants and buffaloes are increasingly threatened by below-average rainfall and new infrastructure projects.

What are the 2 reasons animals in Africa endangered? ›

Let's start with the answer to the question: “Why are African animals endangered?” African animals are endangered for reasons including: conflict with humans, habitat loss and poaching.

What is causing habitat loss in Africa? ›

As development in Africa continues, agriculture, infrastructure such as pipelines and roads, as well as resource extraction contribute to the destruction of wildlife habitats. These changes in land-use are fragmenting natural habitats and wildlife migration corridors.

What caused migration out of Africa? ›

Most likely, a change in climate helped to push them out. Experts suggest that droughts in Africa led to starvation, and humans were driven to near extinction before they ever had a chance to explore the world. A climate shift and greening in the Middle East probably helped to draw the first humans out of Africa.

What was the migration out of Africa called? ›

They had no human fossils from sub-Saharan Africa from between 15,000 and 70,000 years ago. Because the epoch of the great migration was a blank slate, they could not say for sure that the modern humans who invaded Europe were functionally identical to those who stayed behind in Africa.

When was the African migration? ›

The first wave of large-scale voluntary migration from sub-Saharan Africa to the United States began in the second half of the 20th century, after significant U.S. policy changes.

Why do animals migrate from Tanzania to Kenya? ›

They mainly migrate in search for better water quality and new grazing grasslands. The annual migration safari of over a million wildebeest occurs every year in 2 prominent parks, Kenya's Masai Mara National Park and Tanzania's Serengeti National Park.

Why do large herds of animals in the savanna migrate each year? ›

Well, they have to keep moving. Many animals of the savanna migrate throughout the year, searching for food and water. Many of the droughts are seasonal and hit one area before another, so animals are constantly following the rains.

Why do animals migrate and where do they go? ›

Most animals that migrate do so to find food or more livable conditions. Some animals migrate to breed. The Atlantic Salmon begins its life in a river and migrates downstream to the ocean. After several years, it heads back upstream to lay eggs and begin the cycle all over again.

What drives animals to migrate? ›

Multiple factors can drive animal migration, including movement to hospitable environments when local conditions become unfavourable (such as to reduce nutritional and thermoregulatory stress), movement to find mates and/or breeding sites, and movement to minimise competition, predation, infection or parasitism.

Which two environmental changes usually cause certain animals to migrate? ›

The cause of migration may be local climate, local availability of food, the season of the year or for mating.

What are 5 causes of the Great migration? ›

The primary factors for migration among southern African Americans were segregation, indentured servitude, convict leasing, an increase in the spread of racist ideology, widespread lynching (nearly 3,500 African Americans were lynched between 1882 and 1968), and lack of social and economic opportunities in the South.

What are the main factors that affect migration? ›

Demographic factors such as age, education, marital status, and language impact a person's willingness to migrate. Worsening political and environmental conditions abroad and/or improving conditions at home can lead to less migration.

What are the effects of migration in Africa? ›

The effects of migration on reproduction in the family during the colonial period include 17 extremely low fertility rates, 2) widespread domestic instability, and 3) exacerbation of moral decadence.

Which animals migrate from Europe to Africa every winter? ›

Landbirds. Migratory Landbirds include common and familiar species that breed in Europe and Asia and undertake long migrations to wintering areas in Africa.

Where can I see animal migration in Africa? ›

Serengeti National Park (Tanzania): This is definitely one of the best places to witness the Great Migration, as large herds of Wildebeest and Zebra begin to congregate. The Grumeti River makes for an imposing barrier which the animals need to gather up the courage to cross.

What is the biggest animal migration in history? ›

The tiny Arctic tern makes the world's longest migration annually as it zigzags 55,923 miles between the Arctic and Antarctic.

What are some fun facts about animal migration? ›

Fun Facts about Animal Migrations

Male and female walruses migrate in separate herds. Sea turtles migrate back to the same beach where they were born to lay their eggs. Emperor penguins, who are excellent swimmers, walk across 125 miles of ice each year to the place where they birth their chicks.

Which animal is known for its long migration? ›

The tiny arctic tern makes the longest migration of any animal in the world, flying about two times farther than previously thought, a new study says. Miniature new transmitters recently revealed that the 4-ounce (113-gram) bird follows zigzagging routes between Greenland and Antarctica each year.

Why is the Great Migration important in Africa? ›

The Great Migration is an amazing phenomenon. It is stupendous to see hundreds of thousands of animals moving all together. Because so many animals rely on wildebeest and zebra for food, the Migration attracts many other species while moving through the landscape, making for unique sightings of diverse species.

Why do African antelope migrate? ›

Why does the Great Migration happen each year? The herds of antelope and wildebeest migrate for the sole purpose of following the rain. As rainfall is determined by the seasons, there is no way to predict the exact timing of the rainfall. In the Serengeti, the rainy season or long rains spans March, April and May.

Why do elephants migrate in Africa? ›

The African forest elephants, African Savanna elephants and Asian elephants all migrate due to seasonal changes to find food and water. The African Savannas, grasslands and forests go through dry seasons. During this time, the watering holes and lakes can dry up. Having access to water is very crucial for elephants.

What were the three main reasons for the Great Migration? ›

The driving force behind the mass movement was to escape racial violence, pursue economic and educational opportunities, and obtain freedom from the oppression of Jim Crow.

What causes migration? ›

Some people move in search of work or economic opportunities, to join family, or to study. Others move to escape conflict, persecution, terrorism, or human rights violations. Still others move in response to the adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters, or other environmental factors.

Which African country has the highest migration rate? ›

The positive net immigration rate also indicated that the number of international migrants coming to South Sudan was higher than that of South Sudanese people leaving the nation.
Net migration rate in Africa as of 2022, by country (per 1,000 population)
CharacteristicNet migration rate per 1,000 population
11 more rows
Aug 1, 2022

Why do zebras migrate in Africa? ›

The zebra migrate to find different grazing areas as the seasons change. Botswana experiences distinct wet and dry seasons. Much of the interior of the country is made up of the dry, barren, semi-arid Kalahari Desert where life can only be supported during the stormy wet season.

Why is Africa losing its wild animals? ›

As Africa's forests, rivers, and land continue to disappear, it is clear that habitat loss is the greatest threat to wildlife. Ecosystems can change drastically from human activities like natural resource exploration, agriculture, and industrial developments such as pipelines, housing, and roads.

Why do zebras have to migrate? ›

It's incredible to watch: each year thousands of animals, including zebras, wildebeests and gazelles, migrate in turn with the seasons between foraging grounds. The animals migrate long distances in their search for sufficient and highly nutritious forage.


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