Tossed around as if they’re toys, these zebras and wildebeest didn’t stand a chance when they ventured into the path of killer crocodiles.
The images, which were snapped in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, show the large aquatic reptiles tackle the migrating mammals as they attempt to cross a deadly stretch of the Mara River.
Captured by wildlife photographer Paolo Torchio, the graphic pictures, taken in August, show the cruelty of nature as the strongest survive.
The 54-year-old Italian spotted the events unfolding when he was in the area visiting from his home in Nairobi, Kenya.
Every year in east Africa, around 1.5 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebra travel north from Tanzania to Kenya in search of food and water.
River of terror: The large aquatic reptiles tackled migrating mammals as they attempted to cross a deadly stretch of the Mara River
Tucking in: The graphic images were captured by wildlife photographer Paolo Torchio
Paolo, who has been photographing wildlife for 25 years, said: “During this long journey the herds are forced to cross through many rivers – some are small streams but some, like the Mara river, are big and infested by hungry crocodiles.
“In my career as wildlife photographer I have seen many predators like lions and leopards killing other animals – that is just a part of nature.
Annual trip: Every year in east Africa, around 1.5 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebra travel north
Danger zone: The 1,800 mile journey is treacherous and an estimated 250,000 wildebeest do not safely reach their destination
“But I will never get used to the way crocs hunt and kill prey, especially when the water is not deep enough for a croc to drown the prey and kill it fast.
“When water is low, like in the pictures taken, they literally eat the prey alive, tearing apart chunk of meat from the screaming animal.”
And Paolo revealed that capturing such incredible images is all about timing.
Paolo Torchio / Barcroft Media)
He said: “I organised my stay in the reserve with the purpose to photograph the crocodiles attacks at the very first crossing.
“It’s difficult because one week before can be too early and the herds are not crossing yet and one week too late and the crocs are already well fed and not willing to attack – but I timed it exactly right this time.”