In no mood for mercy: Crocodiles savage helpless zebra foal after it slipped when crossing river with its herd

December 15, 2013 9:55 PM

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This is the horrific moment a zebra foal fell prey to a float of crocodiles after stumbling at the last minute crossing the Mara River in Kenya.

The frail youngster had waited with the rest of its herd until it was safe to cross the stream.

But when they finally took the plunge, the foal lost his footing in the deeper water and became isolated from the group.

Before any of its cousins could turn around, the zebra was pulled into the river by one of the looming tetrapods.

It was a tragic end to a meticulous river crossing that lasted almost an hour.

Zimbabwe-born amateur photographer Michael Olsen, who captured the event in the Maasai Mara National Reserve described how close the foal came to escaping.

Mr Olsen, 60, said: 'It was an incredibly tense situation in which obviously we were hoping that all the zebra would make the crossing safely. They nearly did.

Led by a mature zebra stallion, nicknamed 'Captain Courageous' by Mr Olsen, the herd had to cross the river in order to continue their migration to Tanzania in search of fresh grazing.

Operating on the principle that there is safety in numbers, the zebras waited until the herd numbers had swelled to a significant number to make the crossing en masse.

After patrolling the river bank to find the best crossing spot, 'Captain Courageous' swam to the far shore - then bravely returned to the north bank after realising that the rest of the herd had failed to follow his lead after getting spooked by a hippo.

However, the herd committed to the second crossing and they filed into the water in two distinct lines, following each other closely for safety.

'The crocs had taken up ambush positions in the river above and below the crossing point,' Mr Olsen, currently based in Accra, Ghana, said.

'There were a few unsuccessful attempts made by the crocs to grab a zebra and a few extremely close escapes.

Most of the animals had completed the crossing when suddenly one of the younger zebra foals lost his footing in the deeper water, drifting from the protection of the line.

Within a second, the crocodile launched, snapping its powerful jaws over the muzzle, breaking its bones instantly, before dragging the zebra foal beneath the water.

'We felt very helpless and sad to see how a vulnerable young animal can so easily become prey,' Mr Olsen added.

'As soon as it became separated from the safety of the crossing line it was attacked - all it took was one mistake.


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