Guest Author - Dawn Denton
Africa’s 6000 mile long Great Rift Valley is one of the most remarkable and ecologically diverse regions on the planet. Here, the unpredictable tectonic plate movements create lava lakes, hot springs, dramatic scenery and active volcanoes that spew ash across the landscape from almost 10 miles below the surface. These eruptions can be seen from space and are viewed as signs of rejuvenation and rebirth.
January brings enough rain to start the calving season, as well as the growth of the grasses. As February approaches, so the ‘Great Wildebeest Migration’ begins with grazing and giving birth. March, April and May is the main migration period of the wildebeest as they continually move to find the grassy plains. About half a million zebras lead the migration and then 1.8 million wildebeest cross to the west and the north of the region in a spectacular exodus. Nothing stands in their way as they tackle rivers and valleys, eating everything as they go.
This vast journey of animals is accompanied by billions of flying insects. The curious little agamas, or rainbow lizards, enjoy this instant abundance of snacks. These lizards are between an inch and a foot in size, live mostly on rocks and are generally insectivores. Tomorrow the wildebeest may move on, so they make the most of the situation. Although they would seek food if necessary, they would much prefer the food to come to them... and it does!
The ‘King of the Jungle’ knows that this is his time of plenty too and prides of lions follow the wildebeest herds as they move across the savannahs. And the agama lizards? These lazy, yet clever little creatures know that a lion that has eaten a wildebeest will be a magnet for flies. The lizards wait for the lions to find a shady place to sleep after their wildebbeest feed, normally on a high rocky outcrop. When the lions drop off, the lizards engage in ‘espionage’ to ensure the lions remain asleep so that they can enjoy a feast of their own. They target the flies that are attracted by the bloodied lions and with stealth precision the lizards get their fill.
These symbiotic events are only possible because of the landscape – the activity under the earth’s crust creates fertile land, which the wildebeest then strip and need to move on. As they move, they attract insects and predators. African fauna and flora exist for and because of each other.
This is Mother Nature at her best - she ensures a continued interdependency to guarantee the survival of each of our plant's species.