The Serengeti, home to the greatest army of them all

The Serengeti in Tanzania is the home to the largest African army on earth. Between December and March the majority of game animals of Eastern Africa are in the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation area in the Southern Serengeti in Tanzania. When the animals are grazing in the Serengeti, the animals do not look like an army. On the contrary, the whole area looks like a Garden of Eden of joyful animals. By April the plains are no longer able to sustain the herds, and the army starts to gather to march to the north in search of new pastures, and this continues through May and June.

Between July and October the great herds arrive in the Masai Mara in Kenya. When they start to deplete the grasses, they move south again towards the Serengeti where they start to arrive in November and December. This is an epic 1,800 mile journey, where these animals follow the food flow in a clockwise direction.

When the animals commence their great migration, more than 1.8 million wildebeest congregate with more than 200,000 zebras, 500,000 Thomson’s Gazelles and more than 100,000 other animals including large quantities of the small deer including dik dik and impala. They are closely watched by the marauding predators that include lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyenas.

This African army is equivalent to the human army gathered by the Nazis for the invasion of the Soviet Union – codenamed Barbarossa – on 22nd June 1941. This was the biggest gathering in human history with more than 4.5 million soldiers from the seven Axis armies of Germany, Italy, Finland, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia and Romania. They had a journey of more than 1,800 miles in front of them. They were also accompanied by 600,000 mechanized vehicles and 250,000 horses. They were opposed by the Soviet army of more 3.9 million soldiers.

The great African army is also faced by formidable foes. In their invasion of Masai Mara in Kenya they are opposed by the tank battalions of crocodiles who lie in wait in the Grumeti and Mara Rivers. To oppose this enemy, the wildebeest use Blitzkrieg tactics, amassing in huge numbers, before launching a lightening strike to cross the river in huge numbers. The crocodile tanks await the invasion, coolly spotting the weaker wildebeest and zebra while in the water and rapidly closing in on their chosen victims, attacking them and pulling them away to slowly drown them, then crunching them with their big jaws.

No enemy can deal with this African army head on; rather, they attack the weak and vulnerable, and normally older and younger soldiers on their flanks. When the huge herds of wildebeest and zebra are in migration, they are closely watched by lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas who engage in guerrilla tactics, attacking the herds from their sides and flanks, picking on the smaller and weaker elements, before retiring with their prey.

The African army does suffer serious casualties en route, and it is estimated that at least 250,000 wildebeest die in the great migration. However, the casualties they suffer are nothing compared to those suffered on both sides in the Barbarossa operation. Operation Barbarossa was the largest military operation in human history in terms of both manpower and casualties. It is estimated than more 850,000 German forces were killed or injured in Operation Barbarossa, but the Soviet side suffered losses running into many millions.

The Nazis invaded Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to seek Lebensraum (living space) for the growing German peoples, and also to seize and control the wheat fields of the Ukraine and the Caucasian oil fields to supply its motorized army. The African army seeks new grazing fields, but its logistical supplies are always in front of it, thus ensuring its success.

Operation Barbarossa become the site of some the largest battles, most deadly atrocities, the highest casualties, and the most barbaric acts of human activity in the history of warfare. All of these were to vitally influence the course of World War II and the history of the world.

In contrast, the African army goes about its great migration with a solid determination and great dignity which maintains the delicate balances between the different species which make up this splendid army. In its own way, this army has had its own decisive influence on world history, which has achieved recognition by it being designated as one of the ten natural wonders of the natural world. There is certainly much that the human race could learn from the great African army, and should we ever spoil, sabotage or destroy this army, this would surely be one of the biggest atrocities committed by humans in any war.

Recent wars in Africa have not had happy endings, and record a catalogue of shame and disaster. The sight of most African armies in recent years has brought horror and dread to the population, and spread terror and fear wherever they have gone. But Africa can feel especially proud of this African army from the Serengeti. It is an awesome, proud and successful army, and provides one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles, as well as preserving the freedom and integrity of all the animals that grace the plains of the Serengeti. This animal army brings wonder, excitement, splendour and a heart warming feeling to all those who have had the privilege to witness in action the greatest army of them all.

Gerard Moxon is Founder of Luxury Hedonist.

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