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.
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.
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.