Seeing animals in their natural habitat is one of the most incredible experiences in the world, so it’s no wonder that seeing these amazing creatures in their multitudes is even more awe-inspiring. That’s why animal migrations are so sought after and interesting; happening all over the world, animals typically migrate for their own survival, travelling vast distances in herds, colonies or flocks to safer areas, with favourable breeding conditions and more water and food to sustain them.

The great migrations of the world are incomparable treasures, but as a result of climate change, man-made obstacles and the exploitation of natural resources, they’re coming under threat.

To highlight how astonishing these migrations are, we have mapped some of the most iconic wildlife migrations around the world, looking at the great wildebeest migration in Tanzania to the rare black-necked cranes in Bhutan.


Connochaetes Taurinus

The tremendous herds of wildebeest first arrive on the short-grass plains of the Serengeti during late November and early December, spreading their way across the plains covering the south and east of Seronera, around Ndutu and the north of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. During April the herds will begin their migration north, and by May the areas around Moru Kopjes and waste of the Seronera are full of moving columns of wildebeest. Some of the herds head north of Seronera, but most go west, and in June they all congregate in the Western Corridor on the south side of the Grumeti River. Throughout July and August some head through Grumeti Reserve and Ikorongo, while others head north through the Serengeti National Park. In September, they spread out across the Serengeti and cross the Mara Rover, before beginning the march back south in October.


Equus Quagga

The migration of the Makgadikgadi zebras in Botswana begins at the end of November and early December, beginning with the rainfalls in Makgadikgadi Pan National Park. The migration begins in Okavango, and reaches the Makgadikgadi grasslands in a few weeks, covering approximately 250km. The zebras remain here for roughly two and a half months before returning to the Okavango Delta in March, where they stay during dry season – July, August, September and October. Only 55% of the zebras migrate to Makgadikgadi, while 45% of the population remain in Okavango for the entire year.


Grus Nigricollis

The rare black-necked crane from Bhutan has an interesting and diverse migration route. There are actually four different migration routes with six stopover areas in total. Some of the cranes will enter Bhutan from the west, flying over Paro and Gasa, and typically remaining in Gasa for two weeks. Meanwhile, cranes entering from the north-east tend to use the Lhuntshi or Trashi Tangtshe routes, with stopovers at Dungkhar, Baptong, and Tangmachu. Summer breeding takes place in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China, while there are three subpopulations during the winter: north eastern Yunnan and north western Guizhou provinces; north western Yunnan; southern Tibet and Bhutan. There are approximately just 300 birds involved in this migration.


Sterna Paradisaea

The Arctic terns have the longest migration path of any animal, travelling an incredible 44,000 miles from the north pole to the south pole and back again, every year. The birds spend the year flying between their breeding grounds in Greenland in the north and the Weddell Sea on the shores of Antarctica in the far south, escaping the northern winter by following the sun south. The terns begin moving south following breeding season, which typically occurs between late July and early October, and spend the first month in the central part of the North Atlantic, where they take advantage of the great feeding sites. During the spring, the birds fly in a slightly different route back north; the path takes the form of an “S”, following the prevailing global wind systems to aid their flying.


Aptenodytes Forsteri

Every year in March, the emperor penguins migrate from the coast of Antarctica to colonies all over Antarctica – notably Snow Hill – 100 miles away across the thick sea ice. The entire colony will travel at the same time throughout the month of March, although every year the exact path changes as the ice shifts and places new obstacles in the way of the penguins. Once they arrive, the females lay an egg and pass it onto their males, who then take care of it for four months while the females are feeding in the sea. When the eggs hatch in August, the females return while the males feed in the sea and over the next few months the parents take turn travelling to the sea and feeding the chick. The chicks will then live by the ocean for the first four years of their lives, before migrating like their parents in their fifth year.


Gecarcoidea Natalis

The famous migration of the red crabs begins with the first rainfall of the wet season, which is typically in October or November but sometimes as late as December or January. The crabs leave their homes from all over the island and march towards the ocean – although the exact time and speed of the migration is determined by the phase of the moon, as the red crabs always spawn before dawn on a receding high-tide during the last quarter of the moon. Once the females release the eggs, the baby crabs remain in the water for a month, before marching inland when they measure roughly 5mm across. They stay hidden in rocky outcrops and forest debris for the first years of their life, and most years very few baby crabs will survive at all – if any. However, once or twice a decade a huge number will arrive, enough to maintain the population.


Phoenicopterus Roseus/

Phonicoparrus Minor

Between April and June every year, thousands and sometimes millions of flamingos make their way to the Rift Valley Lakes found in East Africa, specifically flocking on Lake Bogoria and Lake Nakuru. Lake Nakuru is specifically well-known for the large number of flamingos that gather, as it's a shallow soda lake with high alkalinity, which protects the flamingos from predators. The lake also serves as a sanctuary for endangered black and white rhinos, offering a good spot to see baboons, lions, gazelles and elusive leopards. Both the Greater Flamingo and the Lesser Flamingo can be found here.


Megaptera Novaeangliae

Humpback whales can be found all over the world, which means their migration pattern is wide and diverse. During the summer months, whales from the southern hemisphere spend their time in the south, feeding in the waters around Antarctica. Then during late Autumn, they begin their annual migratory route to their winter breeding and calving grounds in the warmer tropical waters of the Pacific. Whales from the northern hemisphere spend spring through to the fall feeding along the coastal and continental shelf waters that stretch from northern Japan, into the Bering Sea and towards California. During the winter, they head to their breeding grounds in one of the four main regions in the North Pacific: Hawaii, Mexico, Central America and Asia – specifically the islands south of Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.


Danaus Plexippus

The southward migration of the Monarch butterfly begins at the end of October from a number of different locations. The populations of the Monarch that reside to the east of the Rocky Mountains migrate all the way down to the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, to the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve in Michoacan and Mexico.

Typically, these Monarchs migrate south from Canada and the Midwest United States travelling almost directly to Mexico. The western population of butterflies migrate from areas west of the Rocky Mountains – including Canada and California. The flight back north begins during the spring, passing through Florida, Texas and Oklahoma.