You don't have to go on safari to watch the great wildebeest migration, one of the most striking natural events in the world. Thousands of the animals are streaming across Kenya's Masai Mara Reserve this week — and video of them is streaming online.
The project is being run by HerdTracker, which is using Periscope and YouTube to share live coverage of huge herds of wildebeests — joined by zebras and other animals — making their way across Kenya's grasslands before returning to the Serengeti in neighboring Tanzania.
The live webcasts (which are also being archived) are being filmed through Oct. 5. You can sign up to receive an alert when a stream is about to begin.
The migration is the yearlong trip taken by more than a million wildebeests and other animals as they seek grazing land. The wildebeests pound their way over open areas, but many migration watchers prize the sight of a large herd crossing water — and that was the case Monday, as the HerdTracker team filmed thousands of animals crossing the Mara River.
We'll note that while the images are dramatic, depicting the movement of hundreds of thousands of wild animals, it can be tough to see details from far away. HerdTracker is also posting high-resolution photos from each day's activity at its website.
Like many of the animals that join its migration herds, the wildebeest, also called a gnu, is a member of the antelope family.
From the African Wildlife Foundation site:
"It has a large, box-like head with curving horns. The front end of the body is heavily built, while the hindquarters are slender with spindly legs. They have a gray coat and a black mane as well as a beard that can be black or white. There are several races of wildebeest. The species forming the large herds of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of Kenya and Tanzania is known as the western white-bearded wildebeest, while the eastern white-bearded races inhabits Kenya and Tanzania east of the Gregory Rift. The brindled, or blue, race occurs south of the Zambezi River."
Wildebeests can weigh around 600 pounds; their top speed has been measured at more than 50 miles per hour.