The greatest wildlife migration on Earth is the Wildebeest migration. I was very fortunate to bear witness to this amazing phenomenon last summer in the Maasai Mara range. As you can see in the video, the wildebeest are hovering near the Sand River, the only water source available to them. The only thing standing in their way (and you cannot see this in the video) are two lions lazily basking in the sun waiting for the hapless wildebeest that dares approach.
Inexplicably, the entire herd of about 100 wildebeest turn and head in the opposite direction.
“How?” I wondered, “ Did the entire herd know to go the other way?”
Amazingly, the Wildebeest did not turn back, they moved off into the distance far away from the threat opting to wait out the lurking danger.
Wildebeest have been used to predict rainfall cycles and plant nutrition standards in Africa. Interestingly, Wildebeest numbers have not depleted despite drought conditions but variation in migratory patterns have altered to accommodate changes in climate.
It wasn’t much of stretch for me to wonder, whether much of the misfortune and struggle that befalls us could be averted in the same way I had witnessed. If somehow having stronger connections with each other could reduce the amount of suffering within us. Of course, and I didn’t want to show this clip, there was the lone Wildebeest who didn’t heed the warning and with significant ramifications.
There are those times when I have more questions than answers such as:
- Are we, just like the Wildebeest, capable of transmitting information (like warnings) to each other faster than a news bulletin
- Is misfortune a result of loss of connectivity with the human essence? If we were spending more time trying to connect with each other, would the relationships we build prove to be helpful in averting suffering?
- Are the strategically situated predators waiting for the lone Wildebeest that chooses to leave the group symbolic of the inevitable suffering that happens when we disconnect from each other?
- Is there a Wildebeest in every one of us? Capable of staying connected to the present so that at least for however long, suffering can be fended off.
There is probably a little of the Wildebeest in all of us. Perhaps the desire in all of us to belong to a group of some sort is our innate instinct for survival. Harnessing the Wildebeest in you means to continually work at staying connected to others. The more connected we are to each other, the less suffering we are likely to endure in the end.
- Africa’s Great Migration of Wildebeest Shows “Swarm Intelligence” (Slideshow) (treehugger.com)
- Make it snappy: high-jumping wildebeest escapes jaws of a hungry crocodile (dailymail.co.uk)
- Photographing a Wildebeest Migration (digital-photography-school.com)
- When the wildebeest are gone… (serengetihighway.wordpress.com)
- Masai Mara and the Great Migration – Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya (travelpod.com)