Not exactly news but still interesting: In September 2007, approximately10,000 wilderbeest drowned in a failed attempt to cross Kenya’s Mara River during their seasonal migration, National Geographic reports. Every year, over a million wilderbeest (also known as gnu) leave the Serengeti Plain of Tanzania during late summer and head for Kenya in search of food.

According to Terilyn Lemaire, a conservation worker with the Mara Conservancy, it is common for drownings to occur during migration, but not on this scale. Normally, less then 1,000 wilderbeest will die when they try to cross rivers during the migration. But this year, part of the migrating herd decided to cross the River Mara at a particularly treacherous crossing point. Once they had gotten into the water, they realised that it was impossible for them to clime up either embankment. They could not climb up the embankment on the other side; nor could they climb the embankment they had just jumped off. This trapped the animals in the river where they got swept up by current and drowned.

Living in a herd has many benefits, but the herd mentality can also prove lethal. When the first wilderbeests failed to cross the river and got swept away by current, the rest of the herd just continued to stampede into the water behind them. The deaths could therefore continue over the course of several days until about one percent of the total species population had drowned. This was of course a miserable incident for the wilderbeest, but it was surely a happy time for crocodiles, storks, vultures and other animals that feed on carcasses.

According to Terilyn Lemaire, there was no unusual flooding at the time. The wildebeest merely chose an unsuitable crossing point.

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