Wildebeests or Gnus are closely related to cattle, goats and sheep. From a biological and ecological viewpoint, the animal is a “keystone” specie, one that has shaped and dominated its ecosystem, the semi arid savannahs of eastern and southern Africa, for probably more than two and a half million years. They prefer savannahs and plains, but they can be found in a variety of habitats, including dense bush and open woodland flood plains. Wildebeest are capable of reaching speeds of 50mph (80kph).
They prefer grass, but when grass is hard to find they will also eat leaves. During mating season, males do not sleep or eat while sexually active females are nearby. When the rainy season ends in the plains, herds migrate to the areas, where there is an abundance of water and food. The term “wildebeest” actually refers to two species, Connochaetestaurinus and C. gnou, thought to have split from a common ancestor at least a million years ago.
In 1983 an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 wildebeest, perished in Botswana as a result of a severe drought, causing a large-scale migration of animals. Due to the wildebeests exceptional adaptability, both physical and behavioural to adverse conditions the wildebeest (including Seretses) migrated from Botswana in a southerly direction. Some settled amongst existing populations in the Molopo area. This area stretches from the adjacent areas in Botswana along both sides of the Molopo River (Botswana and South Africa), through the North West and Northern Cape provinces, up to the Kalahari.