THE GREAT MIGRATION

Ever since I was a little kid, sitting on the floor in front of that terrible TV my family owned, I have been fascinated by The Great Migration. Just the words “Serengeti Plain” got me dreaming about the vast space so far away. Luckily, in late August I got to fulfill my childhood dream to go there.

The Great Migration is a continuous motion of grazing animals that moves in a clockwise direction from the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania through the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya in a big circle. The grazing animals are following after the rains, which in turn produce the fresh grazing material the animals depend on. FYI, the BBC has a new series, Nature’s Great Events, which features The Great Migration. Unfortunately, last night’s episode was about sardines. I couldn’t care less about sardines, though I’m sure they are quite interesting in their own fishy way. But keep a lookout for the episode on The Great Migration.

Meanwhile, here are some unretouched photos I took last month–all from the first 24 hours of arrival in “The Bush” of Kenya. We were unbelievably lucky. In the late afternoon, our guide Jakob took us for a drive near our camp. We came across a weary lion and followed him from a distance for a while. He was a slow walker, so we drove to another area and found a second male lion, hanging out with a female. This meant nothing to us, but Jakob, who grew up nearby, decided it was worth waiting to see what might develop. Plenty developed, as soon as the males caught sight of each other.

It wasn’t pretty.
and it was LOUD.

Both lions survived, apparently without serious injuries. They walked away as if nothing had happened.

The next morning, we set out to see if any of the thousands of animals around us were going to cross the Mara River that day. It turns out you can sit in a Land Rover for days at a time, baking in the sun, and no animals cross. But we had come a long, long way and so set off, hoping for the best.

It didn’t take long to find wildebeests standing around. They’re not the brightest bulbs.
There were thousands of them.

We made our way to the river, where about 30 other vehicles were already parked, waiting for animals to cross, but there were no animals nearby. Jakob found what I considered to be a hopeless location and we got ready to wait. However, instead of waiting we had to rush to get our cameras ready. The wildebeests came stampeding right past us.

The dust, the sound of hooves and the “gnu” sounds were terrific.
The crossing began.

NEXT WEEK: The exciting conclusion!

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About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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