There is only a month and a half to go until our Photographer of the Year 2018 closes for entries, and so far we have received some incredible photos that do more than just show wildlife doing what they do best, but they also tell a story.
Paolo Torchio – a professional wildlife photographer based in Kenya – sent in a photo of a dominant male hippo who was taking his frustration out on the carcasses of wildebeest after a tragic Mara River crossing. He now shares with us this amazing wildlife encounter that he managed to capture on camera.
Written, and photographs, by Paolo Torchio
Every year, from around July through to October, around two million animals migrate from Tanzania to Kenya. During this long journey they are forced to cross several rivers, some of them infested by crocodiles, which carries a huge risk of loss of life in the water.
The crossing of rivers can be quite tragic as the animals can also die from suffocation by their own herd during the frantic and chaotic effort to climb the steep banks of the rivers.
In addition, crocodiles are not the only dangerous animal that lurk in the river, waiting to prey on these migrating animals. A gigantic and irascible hippo can create the same devastation as that of a crocodile, and despite the fact that they are known to have an aggressive nature and display unexpected behaviour, a cold-blooded kill by a hippo is rarely caught on camera.
Last year in late July, from the banks of Mara River, I was taking pictures of one of the first seasonal crossings. The confusion was immense as hundreds of wildebeest were dying in the stampede and at the end of the mayhem the carnage was tremendous.
Suddenly, from the carcasses that has piled up against the bank, a lone wildebeest got on his feet – dirty, shaken, confused, but alive – and went back into the water with the intention to reach the opposite side of the river.
Unfortunately it was just not his day as one angry male hippo immediately confronted the wildebeest, chased him in the water, and then killed him instantly with his enormous jaws!
It was so sad to see that wildebeest escape death against all the odds, only then to be brutally killed without a practical reason – not for food by an hungry predator, but at the wrath of an angry bull hippo.