In the world of the zebra, where any misstep could be the last, hoofing it across Africa in search of green grasses is their life’s mission. And that life can last up to 25 years in the wild. During that time, zebra can trek upwards of 12 million steps in a year — without shoes.
When most people think of Africa’s zebra on the move, they usually picture East Africa during the great wildebeest migration, where hundreds of thousands of animals, primarily wildebeest and zebra, follow the seasons, traveling from Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains into Kenya’s Masai Mara.
While that is indeed a dramatic journey, it is surprisingly not the longest migration on the continent. That title belongs to the zebra of Namibia and Botswana. The migration of thousands of zebra is the second largest after East Africa. Recent research, including that carried out by the World Wildlife Fund, has discovered that, in fact, this is Africa’s longest land mammal migration!
The movement of massive herds of plains or Burchell’s zebra between Namibia and Botswana covers a distance of more than 300 miles roundtrip. They travel in pretty much a straight north-south direction, taking some two to three weeks to complete the first half of the journey in November and December. The rainy season’s ample rainfall allows the zebra to thrive away from permanent water sources for about ten weeks before they return to the Chobe River along the Namibia/Botswana border for the dry season.
The sight of these huge herds is breathtaking as they move across the Kalahari Desert into the remote, briefly lush, salt pans of the delta. Yet this incredible natural event has remained largely unknown to most people. Witness this stunning spectacle for yourself on our Precious Journeys® College Edition Southern Africa: Teeth of the Crocodile.