Wildebeest or Gnu are a species of antelopes native to the southern and eastern parts of Africa.
They live in big herds and usually fall prey to predators when they become isolated or stray from the group.
They are well known source of food for other predators such as Lions, Hyenas, Cheetahs and Dogs.
If you are going to do something as spectacular as this, you may as well do it in front of a lot of people! This awesome escape by an extremely agile wildebeest has already been viewed over three and a half million times so this brave animal has certainly had a wide audience.
The heart-stopping moment occurs when all seems to be lost for this poor animal, pursued by a pack of around eight lions. The footage was shot at the stunning Rhino Post Safari Lodge, Bonga Njujula, from Eastern Cape, South Africa.
The Great Wildebeest Escape
If you have not seen wildebeests before, think of them as a kind of extreme antelope! They live in herds on the grass plains and bush-covered savanna of Africa where they feed on mainly grass.
Wildebeests belong to the Bovidae family which is the same as buffalo and domestic cows although unlike our domestic breeds, they are actually endangered. The good news is that their numbers have grown from 250,000 in 1960, to around 1.5 million in 2020.
This particular wildebeest has become trapped between a pack of hunting lions and a river but somehow manages to deal with both in a display of amazing bravery and agility. First, they soar over two lionesses, taking the hunters by surprise and evading capture by just a few feet.
In the slow-motion, you can see that one of the lionesses tries to catch the wildebeest by also leaping into the air but she fails and gets kicked in the head and thrown backward.
With two lions still ahead, the wildebeest then makes a rapid change of direction and darts into the river where they beat the lions to the other side, scramble back onto land and continue to run away with the lions still in pursuit but some distance behind. Somehow, they have managed to outpace the entire pride!
Where Do Wildebeest Live?
Wildebeest are mostly found in the Serengeti plains of Southeastern Africa. Mostly, Wildebeest will graze their whole lives in grassy savannas and open woodlands.
These areas are or near the nations of Kenya and Tanzania. In fact, more than 1.5 million Wildebeest migrate in a huge circle every year.
How Long Do Wildebeest Live For?
Wildebeest have been known to live for about 20 years in the wild. Up to 500,000 calves are born in the beginning of the year in February and March every year. At the beginning for the rainy season calves will walk soon after birth and can keep up with the heard within days of birth.
Wildebeests Evading Their Predators
Wildebeest have a number of adaptions to help them evade predators. Both the males and females have horns and they are very energetic and agile.
They are large animals, weighing up to 600 pounds so it takes a powerful lion to bring them down. But, they have to catch them first! Because wildebeests can run at up to 38 mph that is no easy task.
When threatened, they gather in a group, stomp the ground and let out loud calls to warn each other and to put the predator off. As a group, they are hard to hunt which is why lions try to separate off one individual. Although, as we can see here, that is not always successful either!
Is this Normal Behavior for Wildebeests?
Wildebeests employ many tactics to evade predators while in group. Predators such as Lions, Hyenas and Wild Dogs usually stalk and hunt these animals in groups by isolating one Wildebeest from the herd. Once isolated the Wildebeest usually gets surrounded and cornered, eventually becoming the meal.
However, before giving up these creatures put up a fight and do their best to escape, which includes jumping, kicking or running away from predators.