By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans

A STRAY wildebeest is snatched from his pack by a hungry crocodile in Tanzania

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Wildebeest are migratory animals and spend the year moving between conservation areas in Kenya and Tanzania

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.

Over two million animals migrate between July and October, including approximately 300,000 zebras

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.

In the months before the migration, wildebeest cows drop their calves in a synchronised birthing

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.

Between 300,000 and 400,000 calves are born within a few weeks of each other

“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.

Predators satiate themselves and are unable to consume as much as they could if the calving was more spread out

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.

A newborn wildebeest is on its feet within two or three minutes after birth and it can outrun a lioness shortly afterwards

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.

Many still die within the first year from predation, malnutrition, fatigue or disease

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.”

Young calves are also frequently separated from their mums when the herd panics

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.

Wildebeest cows will never adopt a stray calf, even if they have lost their own and are lactating

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.”

A degree of natural mortality is necessary to prevent wildebeest from overpopulating

To follow more of Juergen’s wildlife adventures check out his website - http://www.travel4pictures.com/ - and Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/travel4pictures/