Wildebeests are iconic African animals famous for their impressive migratory behaviour and their crucial role in the savanna ecosystem.


Tall at shoulder


Kilometres traversed during migration


Year lifespan


1.5 million

Vulnerability Factor

Least Concern

Activity period




Discover the wildebeest, an iconic migratory herbivore
that roams the expansive African savanna, captivating both photographers and wildlife
enthusiasts alike.

The wildebeest, also known as the gnu, is a herbivorous mammal that inhabits the grasslands and savannas of Africa. With its robust build, shaggy mane, and curved horns, the wildebeest stands out as an iconic symbol of the African wilderness. These ungulates are renowned for their massive annual migration, where millions of individuals traverse vast distances in search of fresh grazing grounds. The wildebeest’s migratory behaviour is a remarkable display of endurance and adaptation to survive in challenging environments. Witnessing this awe-inspiring spectacle is a testament to the wildebeest’s resilience and the interconnectedness of wildlife and their habitats.

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Wildebeest Overview


The wildebeest is a large, hoofed mammal with a stocky build and a height of approximately 1.2 to 1.5 meters at the shoulder. They have a unique appearance, characterized by a large head, a broad muzzle, and curved, forward-facing horns. Their coarse, greyish-brown coat provides effective camouflage in the grasslands.

Wildebeests are best known for their annual migration, where millions of individuals move in search of greener pastures. This remarkable natural phenomenon attracts wildlife enthusiasts and photographers from around the world. Photographing wildebeests offers a wide range of opportunities, including capturing their mass movements, interactions with other animals, and the stunning landscapes they traverse. From dramatic river crossings to the tender moments of wildebeest calves exploring their surroundings, photographing these animals provides a captivating glimpse into their lives.

While wildebeests are relatively abundant in certain regions, witnessing their migratory events can be a rare and exceptional experience, making it a sought-after subject for wildlife photographer

Wildebeest Overview

Key facts

  • Wildebeests belong to the antelope family and are closely related to cattle and goats.
  • They are herbivores, primarily feeding on grass, leaves, and shoots.
  • Wildebeests are known for their annual migration, where they travel hundreds of miles in search of fresh grazing areas.
  • The migration of wildebeests is one of the most spectacular wildlife events, attracting predators and showcasing the circle of life.
  • They form massive herds that provide protection against predators through collective defence.
  • Wildebeests have an acute sense of hearing and smell, enabling them to detect predators and danger from a distance.
  • They are well-adapted to the savanna ecosystem and play a crucial role in maintaining the grasslands.
  • Wildebeests have a lifespan of around 20 years in the wild.
  • Their distinctive appearance and migratory behaviour make them a popular subject for wildlife documentaries and photography.
  • Wildebeests are an integral part of the African savannas and contribute to the biodiversity of the region.

Types and Habitats

There are two species of wildebeests: the blue wildebeest and the black wildebeest. The blue wildebeest, also known as the common wildebeest, is found in the grasslands and savannas of eastern and southern Africa. They inhabit a variety of habitats, including open plains, woodlands, and scrublands. The black wildebeest, on the other hand, is native to the grassy plains of South Africa. It prefers open habitats and is often found in areas with tall grasses. Both species of wildebeests are well-adapted to the grassland ecosystems, utilizing their grazing habits to feed on the abundant vegetation available.

Wildebeests are highly nomadic animals, constantly on the move in search of food and water. They are well-suited to grassy habitats, where their grazing helps maintain the balance of the ecosystem. Wildebeests have a specialized digestive system that allows them to efficiently extract nutrients from the tough grasses they consume. Their migratory behaviour is driven by the need to access fresh grazing areas as the seasons change.


Explore the Fascinating World of This Animal Through These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes, wildebeests and gnus are the same animal. The name “gnu” is derived from the sound they make, while “wildebeest” translates to “wild beast” in Afrikaans.

The wildebeest migration typically covers a distance of over 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) as they move between Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara, following the availability of food and water.

Wildebeests migrate in search of fresh grazing areas. They follow the rains and the growth of new grass, ensuring a continuous food supply for the large herds.

Yes, wildebeests migrate in massive herds that can consist of hundreds of thousands or even millions of individuals. The size of the herds provides protection against predators.

Predators such as lions, hyenas, and crocodiles prey on wildebeests, especially during river crossings. They target the weak, injured, or young individuals within the herds.