Great Animal Migrations Around the World

There are numerous documentaries highlighting different animal migrations around the world and I personally am enthralled each and every time I watch one. These migratory movements are generally to ensure the creature’s survival and so take on a very dramatic story line.

Whale sharks off Mexico’s Caribbean coast follow the climatic patterns that sustain their supply of food and water. Others travel vast distances each year to instinctually return to their ancestral breeding or birthing grounds. These creatures migrate in great numbers not only because of their communal instincts, but because it provides safety from predators.

I have selected a few of the my favorite migrations to inspire you to see something truly special that nature has to offer.

1. Wildebeest and Zebra Migration

Kenya & Tanzania

From August through September, the game preserves of Kenya and Tanzania (especially Amboseli, Serengeti, and Masai Mara) come alive with vast herds of wildebeest and zebra. Some 1.5 million animals traverse the veldt here kicking up dust clouds on their way north to follow the rains and the life they provide.

2. Elephant Migration


All African elephants migrate in search of food, water, and habitat. Elephants in Mali cover than 300 miles. While Mali’s African elephant population is relatively small, the country’s dry climate ensures its elephants must be in a near state of continual migration, in search of new drinking water.

3. Emperor Penguin Migration


Every year some 200,000 Emperor Penguin follows a long, difficult, migration path to a place in Antarctica away from their normal home by the edge of the sea. Some 200,000 emperor penguins make a punishingly long, arduous trek from the Antarctic coast to inland laying grounds each year.

4. Green Sea Turtle Migration

Costa Rica

Thousands of endangered green sea turtles enact an extraordinary annual migration ritual by returning to the same remote stretch of Costa Rica’s northeastern coast where they were born in order to lay eggs of their own.

5. Monarch Butterfly Migration

North America

Monarchs are especially noted for their lengthy annual migration. In North America, some 300 million monarchs make massive southward migrations starting in August until the first frost. A northward migration takes place in the spring.

6. Red Crab Migration

Christmas Island & Cocos (Keeling) Islands

The Christmas Island red crab is a species of land crab that is endemic to Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean. Although restricted to a relatively small area, it has been estimated that 43.7 million adult red crabs lived on Christmas Island alone.

7. Whale Shark Migration

Philippines, Western Australia & Mexico

The whale shark is found in tropical and warm oceans and lives in the open sea with a lifespan of about 70 years. Although whale sharks have very large mouths, as filter feeders they feed mainly, though not exclusively, on plankton, which are microscopic plants and animals.

8. Flamingo Migration

Kenya, Argentina & Chile

In the summer, Andean Flamingos live in salt lakes and migrate to the lower wetlands for the winter. The cause of this migration from summer to winter is possibly due to the extreme aridity of salt-flats during the winter. The path of migration is unknown, but it is thought to occur between the Chilean breeding grounds and the wetlands of central and western Argentina.

9. Fruit Bat Migration


Every year, from October until December, 8 million Straw-colored Fruit Bats arrive from the Congo to feed on the wild musuku fruits in Zambia’s Kasanka National Park. This is Zambia’s secret bat spectacle and the world’s largest mammal migration.

10. Bar-Headed Goose Migration

India to Tibet

The Bar-headed Goose is a goose which breeds in Central Asia in colonies of thousands near mountain lakes and winters in South Asia, as far south as peninsular India.

Of course, this is just a small selection of animal migrations that happen every year. Let us know in the comments section which ones you’d like us to add to this list.

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3 thoughts on “Great Animal Migrations Around the World

  1. Great article! I would love to see the flamingos and the red crabs in particular… or maybe the whale sharks, turtles and penguins by the sea? So many awesome shots too – perhaps one day I’ll get the chance 🙂

  2. Rosemary Wells

    Also check out the Canada Geese migration. In the fall we have thousands that land in our little Bay to rest on their journey south. They arrive and leave on mass all honking loudly. Amazing landing and take off. Process is reversed in the Spring when they return and stop on the Bay on their way north. Fascinating!

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