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Paradise Crossing

The Serengeti is often called God’s private zoo. It is not difficult to see why. During the rain period from December to June, the plateau surrounding the Ngorongoro volcanic crater in the Serengeti is covered with lush vegetation and herds of animals. The most striking of these animals are the gnu antelopes. At over one million strong, they are much more numerous than the other hoofed animals, to the point lions and hyenas find it difficult to limit their number. After the last rainstorm, the plain rapidly changes into a dry and hostile wasteland. The gnus migrate, following the escaping rain. At the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya, the herd stops to graze, but must shortly head back to Ngorongoro. This migratory cycle is never the same, changing based on the herd’s size and the direction of rainfall. At a certain point during the migration, the herd must swim across its largest obstacle – the Mara River. Here, hordes of hungry crocodiles wait for their prey. The antelopes seem to know this and are reluctant to enter the water, yet they cannot abandon their march. The species is not only fleeing the drought, but also the predators that are unable to keep pace. There seems to be a deeper motive as well. Perhaps this migration is an attempt to rediscover a long lost garden of paradise. Maybe the gnus never leave paradise, but never stay long. Or perhaps paradise is in the journey, not in the destination.

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