Written by Kelsea Lee
This time every year as the rains bring the Liuwa Plain in Zambia back to life, Africa’s second biggest wildebeest migration moves into the southern reaches of the national park to drop their calves. Our guides at King Lewanika Lodge have just reported seeing the first calves arriving, marking the start of the annual birthing season – a time spanning just a few weeks when the majority of the calves will be born.
By synchronising the births over a short period, the wildebeest provide the best protection possible to their newborn calves. The predators can only hunt and eat so many times per day, so there is a greater chance for each individual calf to elude unwanted attention if they are merely one among thousands.
If the births were spread out over a season, the supply wouldn’t be as saturated and the predation rate would be much higher.
Within a few short weeks the herds swell with new life, and the next generation of knobbly-kneed wildebeest join the Liuwa Plain. It is a time of plenty for the cheetahs, hyaenas and lions – easy prey awaits at every turn and the circle of life continues.
For several months, the herds will remain in the south, feeding on the mineral-rich grasses. Around June, they begin the next phase of their annual migration, heading back north for the winter season.
As if this natural wonder wasn’t incredible enough, this is also when the wildflower blooms sweep across the plains, bringing a mosaic of colour stretching as far as the eye can see. It’s a magical time of year on the Liuwa Plain.
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