Wildebeest Migration Takes Polka Dotted Zebra to Serengeti; The September October rains are here again and as usual, the wildebeest have started their great trek from Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve savannahs to Tanzania’s Serengeti plains looking for greener pasture among other reasons.
This is one of the most eagerly anticipated moments for travelers/tourists who visit Serengeti National Park and Maasai mara during the rainy seasons with many staying at accommodation facilities strategically located at the different migration paths so that they don’t miss the spectacular show of animal mass movement.
This year is no different from others, several tourists have flocked both Kenya’s Maasai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti to catch these unforgettable moments; what they didn’t know or expect this season; is that this migration would be beyond memorable, more unforgettable than the others, because as the wildebeest took the lead in moving from Maasai Mara to Serengeti with other wilds the rare nearly four weeks polka-dotted zebra was with them on the trek.
From the images circulating on the internet, it looks like this foal is following its mother and other older zebras on a trek to Serengeti; it’s indeed moving from Maasai Mara to Serengeti. This sighting of the rare zebra crossing with others caused excitement among travelers, tourists, tour guides and locals when it was spotted with other zebras moving along the Kenya-Tanzania border moving into Serengeti national park Tanzania. They all witnessed this spectacular moment in amusement as the little foal joined the others crossing the sand river that borders Maasai Mara and Serengeti.
Zebras are among the animals that normally follow the wildebeest on these migrations for no obvious reasons however scientists don’t rule out reasons like looking for greener pasture as zebras feed on the same vegetation like the wildebeest.
Numerous reports have gone around in the past couple of days saying the world wonder zebra had been captured and caged by Kenyan wildlife authorities, however, the sighting of this foal was not just a great relief to the public to know that the foal was not caged as reports stated but also a way for the Kenyan wildlife authorities to clear these unprecedented reports/rumors.
Thousands of wildebeests and other animals including gazelles and zebras move every year in a bewildering show of migration that is listed among the world wonders; from Mara to Serengeti at the start of the second rainy season in September- October and from Serengeti to at the start of the first rainy in February-march. A couple of months before the wildebeest migrate to Serengeti in September/October they mate in the mara savannahs and weeks before they migrate to the mara in February/March they deliver their young ones in the Serengeti plains.
The rare zebra was an internet sensation when it was first spotted in early September by one of the park guides named Anthony Tira who took a picture of the foal and shared it on social media; in a few hours the spotted Zebra has gone viral with people making inquiries about it and others traveling to Maasai mara to see for themselves this peculiar zebra. Mr.Tira the guide who first spotted this Zebra went on to name the polka-dotted Tira after himself; as it is a park rule that anyone who finds an animal of significance gives the animal a name; meaning the honours of the name the polka-dotted zebra were upon Mr. Tira and he named the zebra Tira.
The zebra has a brown coat, white spots and a few incomplete stripes; it is so different from the rest of the zebras who have black coats and white stripes; this difference is the reason this foal is popular and a wildlife sensation. scientists say that its differences in colour is because of a melanin defect that they suspect happened during gestation and affected the complete formation of the Zebra’s coat colour; they say when foals are born they have brown coats with white stripes and as they mature their coats darken to black.
Though zebra stripes have strong functions in the zebra’s wellbeing especially fighting off flies, scientists believe this zebra will survive and live up to its life expectancy. However, there are fears that this rare zebra “Tira” will not survive on the trek like some other wildebeest and animals that lose their lives during the trek due to difficulties, diseases and being eaten by predators.
The animal’s difference has been called different conditions like animal albinism and pseudo-melanise; as studies continue worldwide among wildlife communities to get to the bottom of why this zebra is rare or different from the rest.
Since its first sighting in September, the polka-dotted zebra has become one of the most sought after creatures in Maasai mara drawing numerous tourist to Maasai mara national game reserve; nearly causing a human stampede in recent days and now that it has moved to Serengeti, there are expectations that the tourist numbers in Serengeti will skyrocket as many make trips to Serengeti to have an opportunity to see this rare Zebra.
Tourists, who have had the opportunity to see this rare polka-dotted zebra, have widely spoken about this fascinating wonder and expressed their amusement on several social media platforms; since the wildebeest are to stay in Serengeti until the next rainy season when they migrate to mara again; the rare zebra is also expected to be there and hopefully migrate back to mara with the wildebeest.