Running with the Beest

Two Maasai show us the spectacle of the Great Wildebeest Migration in Kenya and share its challenges
in a modern world.

Released : 2022

Runtime : 1 x 60 minutes

Broadcaster : PBS

The Great East African Migration is a spectacle that can be seen from space, and the most impressive mass movement of land animals on earth. Over a million wildebeest, with zebra, gazelle and elands in a quest to find fresh grass.
Stunning photography reveals this spectacle like never before…from every possible angle. Drones reveal the herd dynamics, nest cams get up close and personal to endangered vulture chicks, and croc cams give us an eye to eye contact on the river bank. From every perspective, we follow their treacherous journey as they head towards Kenya and into the Masai Mara National reserve and beyond.

We are guided through the eyes of two professional Masai guides, Derrick Nabaala and Evalyn Sintoya who have spent the last 10 years or more following the wildebeest as they journey through the Maras ecosystem. Both have seen many changes over the last decade.

We reveal new challenges, like snares, set by villagers living on the border regions of the reserve. Daniel Kijape and his team patrol daily for poachers as they try and prevent tens of thousands of animals being killed every year.
And old challenges… we meet characters along the way, from the wildebeest and zebra that make up the mega herd, to the delicate crowned lapwing, a small bird that depends on the herds to drum out insects for food, and to keep the grass short for breeding. There are hitchhikers in the form of oxpecker birds, and of course iconic predators, like lions, cheetahs, hyenas and vultures. All eagerly await the wildebeests arrival in Kenya. They drive this ecosystem, dropping dung, churning the soil with their hooves and grazing the grass short.

Even the amazing savannah landscape is a character in itself with powerful rivers, tender new grass, and beautiful, vast African skies. The drama plays out across these plains, emulating the struggles faced by wildlife across the world as the climate changes and humans continue to impact the environment.

Evalyn and Derrick tell the story with passion, relevance and personal insight having lived through huge changes in the last few decades.

Eventually, the wildebeest cross the formidable Mara River. Nile crocodiles have waited months for this moment… moving like scaly battleships into position. Life and death plays out in the murky waters at this time of year.

But this natural event is under threat from human pressures too. As tourists come in their thousands to watch the spectacle, they have now become a serious threat to the wildebeests survival, blocking their crossings with their vehicles and forcing them to cross in more dangerous places. Our guides relay their dilemma as the safari vehicles scramble for the best view.

On the final leg of their northern journey, beyond the reserve, livestock fences have blocked traditional migration routes. New ideas are encouraging fences to be removed to clear the way for the traditional migration routes. Evalyn and Derrick explain the pressures and challenges of conservation in a changing world.


Written and Directed by

Joanne Schofield


Anthony Geffen

Executive Producer for WNET

Fred Kaufman

Series Producer for WNET

Bill Murphy

Director of Photography

Bob Poole

Narrated by

Nyambi Nyambi

Additional Photography

Andrew Yarme
Clement Kiragu

Edited by

Claire Skeates

Associate Producer

Gina Poole

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