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Animal Behavior

What is the largest mammal migration?


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January 26, 2013 5:57PM

Do you mean the greatest distance, or the largest migration in terms of numbers of animals? The huge migrations of the Serengeti plains have millions of animals. As stated below, whale migration might be the farthest distance traveled.


A whale

Gray Whale: 12,000 mile roundtrip not one way may be the longest migration of any mammal on Earth.

The largest number of migrating mammals is bats which travel to South Africa by the millions. Eidolon helvum, the straw-colored fruit bat, is the most conspicuous migratory bat species in Africa. The wingspan of a straw-coloured fruit bat reaches 85cm making them the second largest bat in Southern Africa. The Giant golden-crowned flying fox, or as it's sometimes known, the golden-capped fruit bat, is the largest known species of bat in the world.

There is still competition provided by the recently discovered population of the white-eared kob - a chestnut coloured and medium-sized antelope - at about 800,000. Add to that other species including the topi and the Mongalla gazelle, and the total number of migratory animals is put at 1.3 million, approaching the scale of one of the world's greatest natural events, the Serengeti migration of wildebeest and zebra across east Africa.

"This could represent the biggest migration of large mammals on Earth," said Michael Fay, a field scientist with the WCS, who conducted the survey. "I have never seen wildlife in such numbers, not even when flying over the mass migrations of the Serengeti."

The largest number of migrating birds is claimed to be the red-billed quelea . This is also the largest number of birds in one species in the world. They breed while en route. This is not the longest migration by a bird species.

Migration of the Arctic Tern, is proven over 22,000 km (14,000 mi). Other species such as the Manx Shearwater or others may match this distance. Bar-tailed Godwits have the longest known non-stop migration of any species, up to 10,200 km (6,300 mi). ref. wiki

Wiki says "The Red-billed Quelea (Quelea quelea) is the world's most abundant wild bird species, with an estimated adult breeding population of 1.5 billion pairs. Some estimates of the overall population have been as large as 10 billion. The entire population is found in sub-Saharan Africa and is generally absent from deeply forested regions and the southern reaches ofSouth Africa. It is a small passerine bird of the weaver family Ploceidae."