As the harsh reality of what the 20 “herd” members are about to do on Mygrations hits home, they lose their first participant within 24 hours of stepping foot on the Serengeti. On the second day, they lose another Mygrations herd member after only going a few miles, and by evening they lose a third member of the Mygrations herd. This is devastating and detrimental to both the Mygrations herd’s group dynamics and overall morale. Every time they lose a Mygrations herd member, their “safety in numbers” strategy becomes less effective in deterring the apex predators that literally surround them.
To recap, Mygrations follows a diverse group of 20 people as they journey along the same path on the Serengeti plains that millions of wildebeest travel over every spring. The main goal of the Mygrations herd is to reach the Mara River in Tanzania after approximately six weeks of traveling on foot, with no compass or other navigational aids to assist them. To make the already dangerous trek even more difficult, the Mygrations group is unarmed and must carry all their food, water, and other gear every step of the way. This alone caused one Mygrations member to tap out.
Individual Mygrations herd members have varying degrees of interests, skills, and training and include survivalists, former special forces military, athletes, and others. In a group this diverse, it is no surprise that conflicts arise almost immediately. Several members of the Mygrations herd are used to being in the leadership role, and a few are more forceful than others in trying to assert their will on the group.
Mygrations herd member, Tom Pohaku Stone, is an expert navigator from Hawaii and stated that he is the shepherd of the group. He went on to explain that he is the person who will be able to move the group along. Almost immediately, he begins to assert himself during a discussion about how much water the Mygrations group needs to carry with them. When Jessie Krebs, ex-special forces instructor, comes up with a way to carry the water, she and Stone get into a heated argument. Stone states that the majority of the Mygrations herd isn’t ready to undertake such a journey, and he will be leaving people behind every chance he gets.
Ex-paratrooper Jesse Holder is the first person to leave the Mygrations herd. After camping near a local tribe on their first night, Holder is experiencing overwhelming anxiety, and the expedition medic is called in. Holder tells her that he doesn’t feel he can handle the mental aspects of the Mygrations challenge, and that the environment is bringing up too many memories and feelings from his time in Afghanistan. Holder and the medic both agree he should return to the U.S. immediately.
Although there is quite a bit of drama on Mygrations, there are lighthearted moments, as well. Mygrations herd member Rob Dubois posted on May 25 to his Facebook page a link to a deleted scene from Mygrations. He writes that the video clip shows a bit of their camp life on Mygrations while living with the bushmen, just before the herd prepares to set off the next day. Several members of the Mygrations herd have fun trying to decide which shelters they want to stay in for the night and a lot of friendly, good-natured bantering goes on.
Eventually, the Mygrations herd moves out to try and catch up to the wildebeest, but it isn’t long before survivalist Duke Edwards becomes frustrated and decides he’s had enough. Instead of moving quickly and gathering or scavenging what the Mygrations herd needed as they go, he feels that the Mygrations herd has been reduced to becoming pack animals trying to carry everything they need to survive. Only five hours into the actual migration, they have lost another valuable Mygrations member.
As the Mygrations herd continues on, they quickly begin to realize just what a dangerous and forbidding place the Serengeti can be. After arguing over what direction they should be walking toward, the Mygrations herd is forced to stop and cluster together when they disturb a male lion in the tall grass. Fortunately, he decides to move away and the Mygrations herd is able to continue on.
When the Mygrations group stops for a quick break to get out of the oppressive heat, Stone voices his displeasure that they’re stopping. As the Mygrations herd moves on, they decide to head for the relative safety of a tree line, but must be on their guard for predators. Once the Mygrations herd reaches their destination, set up camp and get a fire going, they quickly become surrounded by hyenas.
Later that night, the Mygrations expedition medic is called in to examine Tom Pohaku Stone’s shoulder. He states that he is having a lot of pain, and after his exam he calls the Mygrations group together to tell them that he has reached his breaking point. As he prepares to leave the Mygrations herd, the medic states that she did not believe that his injury was such that she would recommend that he leave, although Stone would have undoubtedly argued that point with her. With Stone’s departure, perhaps some of the rising tensions the Mygrations herd was experiencing will now lessen, although losing another Mygrations member so early is going to be tough on the group.
Mygrations herd member Amy Rodrigues is an animal behaviorist, and noted that in wild animal populations at least 30 percent don’t make it. She estimates that in terms of the human herd, that translates to losing around six individuals. They have already lost three of the herd in the first two days, and that doesn’t bode well for the Mygrations herd as a whole. Just two days and 30 miles into the migration, the Mygrations herd has already lost three men, but they were able to catch up to the tail end of the wildebeest herd, which is a defining moment for most of the human herd.
Now that they’ve found the wildebeest, they will have to keep up with them, which means pushing harder and further into hostile terrain, and even deeper into big cat territory. They will find themselves in extremely dangerous situations, and at one point they will discover that they are camped right in the middle of a pride of lions.
According to Deadline, Tim Pastore, National Geographic’s global president of original programming and production, stated that “Mygrations is a series that truly embraces National Geographic’s pillars of exploration and adventure. The human herd’s journey not only pushes the limits of human spirit and capability in extreme conditions, but demonstrates the strengths and resilience our ancestors needed to survive.”
Did you watch the first episode? How many of the herd do you think will remain to the very end? Leave your comments, thoughts, and opinions below. Mygrations airs on Monday’s at 9 p.m. ET on the National Geographic Channel.
[Image via Survive Manu/Twitter]