This past weekend, a highly-anticipated seven-part wildlife television series known as Great Migrations premiered on the National Geographic Channel. The series uses amazing cinematography and cutting-edge technology to capture incredible scenes of migrations that occur around the world, allowing viewers to imagine that they are witnessing these breathtaking events themselves. One of these events is the zebra migration in Botswana, from the watery fringes of the Okavango Delta to the vast Makgadikgadi Pans, filmed by renowned conservationists, Dereck and Beverly Joubert.
This fascinating series documents, with vivid clarity, the struggles wild animals experience in the pursuit of survival.
Countless animals face changing seasons and climates and the danger of predators as they journey across countries to survive.
The series includes a behind-the-scenes look at the film and what scientists learn from these spectacles of nature.
Great Migrations took three years to make. National Geographic film crews dispersed all over the world in 2007 to film these unique migration stories. Crews spent 350 hours in trees, 500 hours in cliff-blinds and 400 hours underwater.
The zebra migration in Botswana documents the zebras as they leave the Okavango Delta and travel into the salt pans. The 150-mile journey begins with mere dozens of zebra families. This number increases to hundreds and thousands as family groups join each other on this strange pilgrimage from lush delta to one of the largest salt-licks in the world.
Some interesting facts about the zebra migration and zebras:
When zebra mothers give birth, they keep their newborns away from the rest of the herd for a few days so that the foal can imprint on its mother’s stripes, allowing the foal to learn to recognise its mother, her voice and smell.
The Makgadikgadi zebra migration is the second largest zebra migration in the world.
Zebras are usually the first grazers to reach a grassland area. They feed on the older growth and are later followed by more selective feeders, such as gazelle and wildebeest that prefer the new growth.
When attacked, zebras form a semicircle and face their predator. If a family member is injured, the others will circle that member to protect it from the attack.
Zebras defend themselves with powerful kicks and painful bites.
Learn more about the National Geographic Great Migrations series on the National Geographic website and hear from the Joubert couple in a clip from behind-the-scenes. Catch the series on the National Geographic channel on Sunday evenings at nine o’ clock and don’t miss the episode on 21 November to view the Botswana zebra migration.