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Migration in full swing – herd of wildebeest crossing the Mara river.
It was a hot and sunny day in the Mara, Kenya. After many days spent to get a picture of the migration, a longing sight for many visitors and wildlife enthusiasts. I felt frustrated not getting a great shot of this wonderful happening of nature.
The fascinating thing it is that nobody can explain when the wildebeest and many zebras will pass the river and what is giving the starting shot for them to eventually move into the water.
So, there we were, waiting more than 5 hours in between a massive herd of a few thousand wildebeest, I estimated about 10000. They were gathering and cueing up, just a few meters away from the edge of the Mara River.
The amount of flies that surrounded us was unreal and annoying so that we covered our heads and mouths with a scarf.
It was already quite breathtaking and we were hugely excited. John, my safari guide whispered to me, “when the first wildebeest will start moving down into the water the others will follow and there will be no turn around after their initial set off. We then have to be quick.”
Sandra, my wife, was even more impatient than the two of us as she was in need of a bush toilet for over two hours by now.
She said she could not hold it any longer and so we reversed and looked for a spot for her. I was nervous we could miss when the wildebeest would be starting to move and therefore loose all these hours of patient wait for nothing … again.
We returned to our position and waited another half an hour, when suddenly John drove off towards the river line. While holding onto my camera and the passenger handle at the same time, I saw on my right, the wildebeest moving down and into the water. It was like an explosion, like a sluice opening up! When the car got to a standstill, I took out my camera and took picture after picture.
It was spectacular with adrenaline rushing through my veins. By now I was sitting on the car roof. It all happened very quickly, some wildebeest got knocked from hippos in the river, some got eaten by crocodiles that were already waiting for them on the water surface and the ones that managed to stay closely together made it safely to the other side.
The river current moved the group into a beautiful curve … Yet the perfect picture eventually happened when some of the wildebeest discovered a gap in front of our car. Below onto an elevated embankment there were animals climbing up the slope. The herd split up and while more wildebeest were pushed down into the river, others seemed to take all their energy and backed off.
When the migration slowed down we still sat there for a while to wind down.
I was filled with such positive energy and happiness that I wanted to jump in the air and hug the world!
To witness this migration and include two wonderful images of this happening in my photographic collection, Pride of Africa, I will always be grateful for.