Capturing the chaos of a wildebeest migration

Hundreds of wildebeest rushing across a river


As a professional wildlife photographer and photographic safari guide, I have been documenting the great wildebeest migration in Kenya’s Maasai Mara for over a decade. It’s the world’s largest overland mammal migration, involving millions of animals, and as such is very special. Few places still have enough room left to host such large-scale journeys.

The undoubted highlight of witnessing these movements is seeing a river crossing—lots of action takes place in the moments just before the plunge, and I wanted to capture it. The wildebeests hate crossing the river: It is fraught with danger and big crocodiles. No animal wants to be the first one in, so they run down the riverbank, get scared, turn, and run back up again. They only cross when the pressure from the rear becomes too great.

On this day, the wind was strong, swirling dust all around the wildebeests as they ran. Mothers called out incessantly to their calves. The animals were in an absolute frenzy. Then the wind picked up and the dust blew over the top of the Mara River, creating a scene of epic proportions. I zoomed into the chaos and snapped the shutter.

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