Massive Migration

Some 8,000 African elephants were among nearly 1.4 million migrating animals spotted during the first aerial survey of Southern Sudan in 25 years

02-01-2008 // Photograph by Paul Elkan and J. Michael Fay

 Massive Migration magazine layout - elephants

Some 8,000 African elephants were among nearly 1.4 million migrating animals spotted during the first aerial survey of Southern Sudan in 25 years. Closed to biologists after civil war broke out in 1983, the region was finally visited by a team of U.S. and Sudanese scientists last summer. Though the researchers had expected the worst, "I have never seen wildlife in such numbers, not even when flying over the mass migrations of the Serengeti," reports participant J. Michael Fay, a field scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. In addition to elephants, the biologists saw large numbers of antelope, mongalla gazelles, buffalo and ostriches on the move. "This could represent the biggest migration of large mammals on Earth," says Fay.

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