By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans
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While thousands of wildebeest crossed the treacherous Mara river safely, one lone beast sadly didn’t make it to the end of their journey.
Every year, the animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greenery of Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.
The migration, which occurs between July and October, is a wonder to behold but not every wildebeest is lucky enough to survive it.
Photographer Juergen Ritterbach travelled to Africa to capture the great migration, often referred to as The Greatest Show on Earth, on camera.
Crossing the Mara river safely is the riskiest part of their epic journey and this unlucky wildebeest got caught in the jaws of a crocodile before he could get safely across.
Juergen, who captured the herd crossing back into the Tanzanian Serengeti, said: “The single wildebeest was a little bit behind the rest of the herd.
“The crocodile grabbed it and they both sunk very quickly and the wildebeest was never seen again.”
Even though the wildebeest did not go down without a fight, his fellow creatures moved on without a second glance.
Losing friends along the way is normal for the 1.7 million wildebeest who migrate alongside thousands of Thomson’s gazelles, elands and zebras.
During his search for the herds, Juergen came across another site where the wildebeest had crossed several weeks earlier and witnessed the carcasses of the many casualties.
He said: ”On this massive crossing hundreds of wildebeest died and we could see a lot of carcasses with hundreds of vultures and marabou storks, as well as some huge crocodiles.”
After a stroke of luck, the safari group came across the stunning crossing Juergen caught on camera.
He said: “On the other side of the river gathered a herd of wildebeest and about five minutes after we arrived the crossing started so we drove to the riverside to watch the massive spectacle.
“Most herds are much bigger, but this smaller herd took about ten to 20 minutes to cross the river.”
Wildebeest are migratory animals who spend much of the year moving in herds between areas of Tanzania and Kenya, notably the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Kenyan Serengeti.
As wildebeest have no natural leaders it is difficult to predict the timing and movements of the complete migration, especially as many smaller herds split off and head in different directions.
Though splintered, the migrating herds of wildebeest continue to draw tourists from around the globe and Jüergen believes it is one of the many sights that must be saved from the impact of human expansion.
The photographer said: “Some might think it intimidating, but it is just an amazing experience.
“It shows what Mother Earth can do and what we absolutely have to save from human impact.”
To follow more of Juergen’s wildlife adventures check out his website - http://www.travel4pictures.com/ - and Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/travel4pictures/