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Monday Morning Photo – Zebra Crossing the Mara River in Kenya

A zebra crossing the Mara River in the Masaai Mara, Kenya.

Some of the most iconic safari images are those that capture the great migration in Kenya, with massive herds of wildebeests or zebras traversing the Mara River. The action shots of this natural wonder are typically of a crocodile chomping on one of the unlucky herd members. I took the above photograph in the Mara in December, at which point most of the migrating animals were on the Tanzanian portion of this single savanna divided by a political boundary.

Kenya's Masaai Mara and its river.

We had driven to the river just so I could have a look at the spot that has featured in countless National Geographic wildlife documentaries. The only animals in the water were several hippos and a few milling crocodiles. I took some landscape shots and signaled to the driver that we could get back to searching for big cats. As we started the car and prepared to leave, a solitary zebra broke from several companions and descended to the river bank. He looked determined to cross, so we killed the engine and prepared for a predatory moment or a narrow escape.

A crocodile hunting for a kill in the Mara River in Masaai Mara, Kenya.

With one of the crocodiles less than ten meters from the shore, the zebra confidently entered the Mara River. I tracked the zebra as it crossed with my camera, expecting a splash of water and open jaws by midstream. I had to snap quickly when the moment arrived and steadied my left elbow on the wood of the safari car door. I tracked the animal in what seemed liked a slowly developing scene, but nothing happened. The zebra was soon climbing the banks of the opposite side of the river, dripping from his brave venture.

The guides and I were perplexed as to why the animal would take such a bold act, so we followed him along the road. After a kilometer or so, we had our answer – a female zebra was waiting for him and they took off together once reunited. Not the ending I had anticipated, but a welcome one.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Natasha Amar April 13, 2015, 12:45 pm

    Love makes you brave- seems like this was true for him as well, doesn’t it?
    Nice pictures Dave :)
    Natasha Amar recently posted…Hipmunk City Love: A Guide to Temples in BangkokMy Profile

    • Dave April 13, 2015, 2:00 pm

      Thanks, Natasha – he’s definitely braver than I’ve ever been!

  • Mary Ellen April 13, 2015, 8:11 pm

    Great story Dave! I,m glad you were curious and sensitive enough to wait and watch the particular plight of the Zebra. Nice to know there was a happy ending!

    • Dave April 13, 2015, 8:41 pm

      Thank you, Mary Ellen! The ending could not have been better and the guides were truly surprised, so I’m fortunate to have seen such a unique series of events.

  • Katinha April 13, 2015, 9:39 pm

    I totally expected sad ending story, however this narrative really cheered me up! Mother nature is beautiful.

  • andrea April 14, 2015, 4:43 pm

    great pics!! congrats :))
    andrea recently posted…La via Ferrata Colodri: vertigine adatta a tuttiMy Profile

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