One in a Million… literally!!

21 August 2012

It has been said that the Wildebeest Migration of East Africa is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, but has anyone mentioned the other animals which take part in this incredible display of courage and honour?

If one takes a closer look, one will see not only the 1.5 million wildebeest but also more than a few beautiful zebras, Thompson gazelles, impalas, topi and the occasional elephant herd or giraffe wandering peacefully through the chaos. I cannot help wondering what goes through these animals’ minds when, within minutes, they are surrounded by one million grunting and croaking wildebeest!

There was a rather strange sighting a few weeks ago when the wildebeest herd arrived in the Bolagunja area close to Lamai. We had stopped the car in amongst them and noticed there was a lot of movement and noise coming from the right hand side and the wildebeest seemed to be moving away from something very quickly. We waited anxiously to see what it was, all the while thinking silently to ourselves that it may be a hungry lion or a bewildered black rhino. However, as the wildebeest parted, we were very surprised to see an animal neither wild nor feline! It was a donkey!

This donkey had obviously escaped from his home in one of the Maasai villages around the park, wandered into the Serengeti plains, met up with the Wildebeest Migration and thought they would make good company! Unfortunately it was apparent that the Wildebeest did not feel the same way. They all continued to snort at him as though he was an apparition from another world!

Every few minutes a male wildebeest would try and prove himself to the ladies as being the brave and courageous one. He would prance out of the circle surrounding the donkey and do a dressage-type strut as he moved. The male never got very close but would stop at a distance, tilt his head sideways, give a loud warning snort, and then dash back to the safety of the Wildebeest wall. Every now and again, the donkey would look up to see what the commotion was
about, but most of the time he carried on eating, completely ignoring the goings on around him.

Maybe he preferred to live in peaceful naivety and remain unaware that he was in fact the ugly duckling of the herd!

Since that day we have heard many more stories of our 'Punda' (Kiswahili for Donkey), and are happy to say that he is still very fit and healthy! Most of his herd have now crossed the Mara River into Kenya but he is the wise one and stays on the southern side, waiting patiently for the return of his family!

There are many more wildebeest to come through over the next few weeks so he is by no means alone!

Watch this space for more news on Punda's journey through the Serengeti!!

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