safari experts, since 1991
See how we earn 5 starsTrustpilot - 5 stars
Subscribe to our newsletter and/or app
Hippo and dead wildebeest in Mara River in Maasai Mara, Kenya
© Paolo Torchio

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.

Wildebeest crossing the Mara River in Maasai Mara, Kenya
© Paolo Torchio

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.

Angry hippo around dead wildebeest in Mara River in Maasai Mara, Kenya
© Paolo Torchio

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 lurks 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.

Hippo approaching wildebeest in Mara River in Maasai Mara, Kenya
© Paolo Torchio

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.

Hippo chasing wildebeest in Mara River in Maasai Mara, Kenya
© Paolo Torchio

Suddenly, from the carcasses that have piled up against the bank, a lone wildebeest got onto his feet – dirty, shaken, confused, but alive – and went back into the water with the intention to reach the opposite side of the river.

Hippo grabbing onto wildebeest in Mara River in Maasai Mara, Kenya
© Paolo Torchio

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!

Hippo kills a wildebeest in Mara River in Maasai Mara, Kenya
© Paolo Torchio

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.

Hippo on the bank of the Mara River with dead wildebeest in Maasai Mara, Kenya
© Paolo Torchio

To comment on this story: Login (or sign up) to our app here - it's a troll-free safe place 🙂.


  • Travel with us. Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Browse our ready-made packages or answer a few questions to start planning your dream safari.
  • Subscribe to our FREE newsletter / download our FREE app to enjoy the following benefits.
  • Plan your safaris in remote parks protected by African Parks via our sister company - safari camps for responsible travellers

AG Logo

Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2018, brought to you by Land Rover South Africa, with stunning prizes from Canon South Africa and Tanda Tula, will run from December 2017 to the end of April 2018. Click here for more details.

Subscribe to our newsletter and/or app
[wpforms id="152903"]
<div class="wpforms-container wpforms-container-full" id="wpforms-152903"><form id="wpforms-form-152903" class="wpforms-validate wpforms-form wpforms-ajax-form" data-formid="152903" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data" action="/stories/hippo-tragic-mara-river-crossing/" data-token="5ec2c284afdbf5042e188162b5ed3a9f"><noscript class="wpforms-error-noscript">Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.</noscript><div class="wpforms-field-container"><div id="wpforms-152903-field_1-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-email" data-field-id="1"><label class="wpforms-field-label wpforms-label-hide" for="wpforms-152903-field_1">Email Address <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="email" id="wpforms-152903-field_1" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][1]" placeholder="Email " required></div></div><div class="wpforms-submit-container"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[id]" value="152903"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[author]" value="519"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[post_id]" value="100758"><button type="submit" name="wpforms[submit]" id="wpforms-submit-152903" class="wpforms-submit" data-alt-text="Sending..." data-submit-text="Subscribe" aria-live="assertive" value="wpforms-submit">Subscribe</button><img src="" class="wpforms-submit-spinner" style="display: none;" width="26" height="26" alt="Loading"></div></form></div> <!-- .wpforms-container -->