Robert Henderson's picture

Jumping the Croc

During the Great Migration, over the course of the year, vast herds of wildebeest move in a roughly circular pattern from the Southern Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya, and and back again. In the course of this constant search for green grass, the herd needs to cross several rivers filled with enormous - up to 6m long - Nile Crocodiles. The only hope an individual wildebeest has is statistical - when they cross the river in a massive group, there are just too many animals for the crocodiles in the river, and the lions waiting along the shore, to get them all.

The Mara River is the most famous of the river barriers the wildebeest need to cross. The wildebeest in this picture are in a frenzy to get across. And for good reason, You can't see him, but they can. A huge crocodile has just picked out and taken a young adolescent in the center of the group. The other wildebeest are literally jumping on as well as over the back of the croc. You can see one of the victim's horns sticking up above the back of the leaping adult in the foreground.

I took the image with a Canon 7D Mark II with an EF 100 - 400 mm f/4.5 - 5.6 IS II USM leans with a 1.4x III teleconverter. The exposure settings were 560 mm, 1/800, f/8.0, ISO 1600, hand-held.

Canon 7D Mark II
560 mm · f/8 · 1/800 sec · ISO 400
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Great photo with the fullness of the animals, where I consider that both composition, color, light and the movement of the water are very good.
congratulations and my like.

Hi Mariano,


The weather and lighting conditions, as well as the specific crossing point, were perfect. The November sky had been washed clean by rain, and there was just enough broken cloud cover to put a spotlight on the section of the river where the wildebeest were coming across.

The highest drama I have ever experienced as a photographer - or maybe the highest drama I have ever experienced period - has been being privileged to see the Great Migration in Tanzania, and to watch the massive herds of wildebeest cross the Mara River.

The river is full of 6m long Nile Crocodiles that can grab a full grown 250 kg wildebeest entirely around the middle. The size and implacable ferocity of these enormous reptiles is staggering.

Several of my best (and most dramatic) photographs of the crossing don't end well for the wildebeest. In this picture the attack, and outcome, are are not visible to the viewer.

But I have been hesitant to post images that actually show the wildebeest in the jaws of the crocodile, or during the actual attack. I don't want to offend fstoppers who prefer the Disney version. (Or receive a damagingly low score on my images!)

Thanks again! Bob Henderson