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Fred Hoogervorst, Professional Nature and Travel Photographer from the Netherlands, since 2009 based in Trinidad&Tobago, Caribbean Island State.
The subjects focussed on, chosen either by personal initiative or by assignments, include tropical rainforests, African wildlife, coastal environments, Sahel desert and also remarkable area's like Borneo, French Guiana, Seychelles, Uganda, Indonesia, Trinidad&Tobago, Antarctica and more .... Based in Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania and Bangladesh in earlier years yielded in a wide range of images from Kruger, Amboseli, Masai Mara and Serengeti, the Caribbean and Indian Ocean Coastal area's.
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Kenya, Annual Migration Picture Story, Masai Mara National Reserve:
The world's largest migration of land mammals takes place in East Africa: the yearly migration of a giant herd of blue wildebeests, Connochaetres taurinus, and zebra's, from and to Tanzania and Kenya. The common wildebeest, a sturdy and hairy antilope species, of which adults will have accumulated well over 200 kilograms in weight, 1m.40 in height and 2m.40 in length, has a large and heavy looking head, adorned with a set of horns on both male and female alike. It has a long tale and it can live to an age of 12 years. Not without tremendous survival skills and a great deal of good luck, that is! The habitat for this grazing animal is the Serengeti/Mara-ecosystem of an approximately 29.000 square kilometers spread over Tanzanian and Kenyan territory. Together with some 250.000 zebra's, 60.000 buffalo's, 8.000 giraffes, 500.000 antelopes, 18.000 elands and 1.000 other species they are living in an area that might be the most abundant of animals on our planet. An estimated 1.3 million wildebeests live in this area. Within a fortnight 400.000 young are born annually in February, after the gestation period of eight months. On their feet and walking within the first five minutes, they make a head on start into their lives. For such a crowd there is not enough grass where they origin, water too goes rare, ending in a period of drought in May. So after a frantic mating season during the full moon time in June, still enjoying their good physical condition after having fed on the high grass for a full six month, most of them start moving towards the western Serengeti grounds. They follow the footsteps on the path of their ancestors that haved passed the western corridor for ages. The drought is apparent, but an approximate twenty kilometers a day are covered, whilst the water runs more scarcely. Every two to three days, they need to drink or they will succumb to thirst. Along with the migrating wildebeests, many predators follow the same path, finding secure and easy prey. Among the enemies of the wildebeests, next to lions and hyena's, are wild dogs, cheetah's, jackals and leopards. Another dangerous event during the migration is the crossing of the Grumeti River in the northwestern part of the Serengeti, where hundreds of Nile Crocodiles, up to six meters in length, are awaiting the crowd of prey animals. By nothing withholds the wildebeests to undertake their migration to the north, to the Masai Mara of Kenya, where the rich nutritious plains of the Masai Mara lure them to defy the dangers to reach their goal and linger there from August to November. Comes the time of the rains, in October, when the soil and pleasant plains change into a muddy and wet difficult base, they make up for their return to Tanzania. The second time around in their round trip travels they have to stand the challenge and the danger of crossing an other river. The Mara River at his time is already fuming after the excessive first rains, but again nothing will stop the wildebeests, enormous herds start crossing on various spots, by far not the easiest places to cross the furious river. The steep shores, the rapids, steep shores again, giant hurdles, and more over, here too the crocodiles just wait and enjoy them. Not only do they snap a crossing animal swimming out of line, they also feed on the hundreds of victims of the spectacular crossing. The struggling stampede down the shores and up again causes many death amongst the species. The dead float around and offer a good meal to the swimming predators. The feast is shared with vultures, hyena's, monitor lizards and even catfish. They help the river wash itself clean after the bloody and deadly affair. After the crossing, the surviving wildebeests have yet to cover another 200 kilometers before these "clowns of the Serengeti", showing us the meaning of their nick name, stumble and tumble around on their home grounds again.