Wildlife photographer Yulia Sundukova witnessed incredible scenes when she visited the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the Serengeti region of Northern Tanzania.
February marks the beginning of the great migration for wildebeest, and incredibly 80% of female wildebeest give birth in the same 2-3 week period.
With the opportunity to capture the birth of up to 500,000 wildebeest calves, it’s no wonder than Yulia made the journey.
Wildebeest are a type of antelope, but unlike other antelopes that seek seclusion and privacy, these happily give birth right in the middle of the herd.
With so many calves being born close together, even though predators will inevitably pick many off, the majority still survive.
Each female wildebeest gives birth to one calf every year after an 8 to 8 and a half-month pregnancy. The new calf will then stay with it’s mother until the following year when the next calf is born.
Labour only lasts for 30 minutes to an hour for wildebeest, and the calves make huge progress just minutes after being born!
Although they’re very unsteady on their feet to begin with, the newborn calves are able to run at the same speed as the rest of the herd within 5 minutes and outrun a lioness very shortly after.
They eat their first blades of grass at 10 days old, and feed from their mothers for the first 4 months of their lives.
Because there are so many calves born at the same time, it is crucial that each mother can recognise her calf by scent, but mix-ups can still happen.
Through witnessing this awe-inspiring natural event, Yulia gained a deep understanding of wildebeest.
She says, ‘After spending days with wildebeests while they giving birth and later, their crossing through the Mara river, I can just say they have nothing even close with the reputation ‘stupid animals’.
‘Every mother was special, with different behaviour by herself and to her calf.’
Make sure you watch the video above to see a baby wildebeest take its very first wobbly steps – they’re very entertaining!