Saturday, September 12, 2015

Darwin At Work

Nearing the end of the wet season in February, 8,000 wildebeests are born every day.  The migration south and west to find fresh grass begins in May.  40% of these babies don't see June.

What stands between May and June?  The Mara and Grumetti Rivers and the crocodiles living in them that haven't eaten for 6 months, not to mention all of the food chain-topping predators that know 1.5+ million potential meals are heading their direction.

The migration is also a noun, in additional to being a verb.  In noun form it is animals stretching to the trees in every direction, and then beyond that line of trees to the next.  They travel as a group, as a "migration," separating to find shade in the plains and cross the rivers between them.

The river crossing are scenes fraught with anxiety, anticipation, water spray, and dust.  If nothing else, they are imprecise experiments in group think by two groups of animal - zebras and wildebeests - that rely on each other for survival: the zebra operates on sight, the wildebeest on sound.  Somehow at some point some single animal decides that now the risk is acceptable, and jumps into the water.  Others believe it, for better or worse, and skittishly follow at an increasingly breakneck pace, with every animal being urged forward by the animal behind it - and the crocodile behind that animal.

Somehow at some point some single animal decides that now the risk is too high and wheels away at the water's edge.  Others believe it, for better or worse, and circle back into oncoming traffic.  A few minutes later the crossing either restarts or the shore clears.  Either way, upstream the crocodiles roll their victims and feast for the first time in half a year.

It's ultimately a poker game of call of the will and calculated risk.  Will I be in that 40% that doesn't see June?

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...