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Science
SOUNDSCAPE: The Serengeti March
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Kimbea and her calf's challenging migration across the plains of Africa
Monday to Friday 3.45-4.00pm 3 - 7 November, 2003

A dramatic and evocative recreation of one of the greatest migration stories of them all; the epic journey of a female wildebeest and her calf from the Serengeti Plains of East Africa to the Masai Mara and back again, in one of the greatest mass movements of animals on the planet.

hyena
  Hyenas will prey on wildebeest calves

Episode 1: Monday 4 November

This programme follows the vast herds of wildebeest and zebra as they embark on the first leg of their journey across the Serengeti Plains, constantly watched and attacked by predators. Our wildebeest, Kimbea (a Swahili name meaning Run) manages to evade the skulking hyaenas and gives birth to a male calf, Du-may.

Its November, and looking out across the Serengeti plains of Tanzania, for almost as far as the eye can see, the land appears to be moving as nearly one a half million animals driven by instinct and survival move slowly across the plains on the first stage of their long and dangerous journey in search of food and water.

This a land where the fight for survival is fought every day; a lioness hidden in the long grass selects her target, leaps, attacks and kills a zebra, her sharp teeth crushing his windpipe as the animal is hauled squealing and suffocating to the ground. The kill attracts the attention of other members of the pride which move in to feed on the kill, before hyenas arrive to scavenge on the remains and vultures descend from the skies. Finally, attracted by the stench, flies descend to feed on the rotting flesh in the heat of the sun.

Further off, a wildebeest turns her gaze away from the kill. This is Kimbea, a young female, pregnant with calf and embarking on her fifth annual migration. Hardened by the experiences of the past she is prepared for what lies ahead a trek of nearly 2000 miles from the plains of the Serengeti to the Masai Mara and back again in one of the greatest wheels of life.

In the far distance, a dark shadow falls across the landscape African wild dogs. Although a rare sight now on these plains these wild dogs are fearsome predators, but for now they keep their distance from the herds.

By February, Kimbea is ready to calve. Wildebeest generally all calve together over a three week period in February. Kimbea’s contractions have started. She prepares to give birth, but when a lone hyena travelling back from a night’s hunting approaches, she shuts down the contractions, effectively stopping the calf from being born, until the hyena has left. Then, seizing her opportunity, Kimbea gives birth to a male calf, Du-may. Kimbea guides her calf into the safety of the nursery herd. Whilst Du-may is safe, others calves have not been so lucky. All around, hyenas, jackals and vultures feast on their prey.

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