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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.

wildebeest
 Wildebeest gather to feed on the short grass of the Serengeti

Episode 2: Tuesday 5 November

This programme follows the vast herds as they journey towards the woodlands of the Serengeti plains where the annual mating ritual, the Serengeti Rut, takes place. Kimbea’s calf Du-may, makes a near fatal error, when he wanders off on his own.

It's March, and the vast herds are feeding on the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti. As evening approaches, the Masai  herd their cattle into bomas to protect them for the night. The incessant calls of the wildebeest mingle with ringing cowbells and human conversation. With the cattle gathered in, the tribesmen gather round a fire, performing their ritualistic dances and singing stories of bravery and courage.

Night time is a dangerous time for the wildebeest herds. A nasal snort sounds the alarm. The sound is passed from animal to animal in a crescendo of cries and terrified brays. The night stalkers move unseen amongst the herd. Hooves thunder back and forth as the wildebeest stampede in terror, but the stalkers have gone. Nearby hyenas enjoy their victim. Loud whooping calls fill the night air whilst the wild dogs watch and wait for their chance to make a kill.

But its not only the night that holds terrors for the wildebeest : there are predators during the day too; a cheetah returning from a failed night’s hunting stalks the calf. But she’s spotted by a group of vervet monkeys which screech their loud warning calls. The game is up, the cheetah returns to her cubs empty handed.

As May draws to a close, the herds become restless. By June, the herds migrate towards the woodlands of the Serengeti’s western corridor almost to Lake Victoria. The sounds of the riverine forest and Lake Victoria are a rich contrast to the dry plains. Fish eagles exchange a ringing peal of laughter and hippos wallow in the cool water, their loud snorts erupting like rude laughter.

Its here in the woodlands that the annual mating ritual takes place the Serengeti rut. This begins with a sound like giant bullfrogs as the males bellow at each other with deep resonant grunts, rocking back and forth and pawing the ground, soiling their horns with manure, then rolling on their backs to advertise their territories on which they compete furiously with one another to round up as many cows as they can. Du-may meanwhile moves towards the edge of the forest where a terrifying sounds stops him in his tracks....

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