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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.

female lion
In the heat of the day, a lioness rests. At night, under the cover of darkness, she will hunt. During the wildebeest migration, there is no shortage of food.

Episode 4: Thursday 6 November

Having survived the treacherous Mara river crossing, the wildebeest herds move into the Masai Mara plains, but danger is never far away Kimbea has a near brush with death when she finds herself in the midst of a terrifying grass fire.

Its October, and the vast herds of wildebeest and zebra have successfully crossed the Mara river and are now moving into the Masai Mara. Kimbea and Du-may have recovered from their ordeal crossing the treacherous Mara river, but not all the wildebeest are so fortunate, and a wounded animal falls victim to the vultures which are circling overhead.

Nearby at a watering hole, a lion springs an attack on a young wildebeest. Despite the alarm calls of a reedbuck, the young calf, which has become separated from its mother can find no protection and falls victim to the lion.

There is another danger on these plains - fire. Grass fires are either triggered by lightening strikes or started by the Masai to encourage fresh pastures for grazing their cattle. Fire has an important role in maintaining the landscape of the Mara preventing the land from turning into scrub and forest but it’s also a destroyer. Kimbea wanders near the flames, but seems undeterred by the heat. A gust of wind blows, and within seconds a circle of fire develops around a small group of wildebeest. The group panics and hooves thunder back and forth on the baked soil. Kimbea staggers about searching desperately for an escape suddenly she spies a break in the flames and surges forward through the momentary gap.

Away from the fire, she realises that her calf, Du-may is no longer with her she runs back and forth to the fire calling constantly. At first, her calls remain unanswered, but eventually she hears a lone calf calling desperately for his mother.

The calls also disturb another a leopard. The leopard, which had been sleeping, descends a tree and moves towards the calf. Suddenly, he’s spotted by a group of finches which call in alarm. Nearby jackals attracted by the alarm calls move towards the sound. Vervet monkeys have also spotted the leopard and they too, start alarming. With so much noise, Du-may becomes aware of an impending danger and makes his escape.

The wildebeest calf is reunited with his mother, he’s had a very lucky escape, this time.

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