An Unlucky Gnu

Morkel Erasmus All Authors, Morkel 17 Comments


Wildlife stories, to be exact. That’s what many of us want our photos to convey…

The obvious and the unseen.

The provocative and the endearing.

The powerful and the tender.

The good and bad of the circle of life.

If you come along on the Wild Eye Great Migration photo safaris you will have a massive blank canvas against which to capture and convey these stories. There’s literally one around every corner, and no it’s not always the obvious predator-prey or crossing-drama.

This story, however, is about a dramatic crossing…

During the safari I hosted with Marlon last year, we pulled up to a massive crossing that was taking place back from the Mara Triangle to the Masai Mara National Reserve…  there are many to-and-fro crossings during this stretch of the migration cycle, depending on the rains.


As we were capturing the frenzy and mayhem, my eye got drawn to a wildebeest that was quite static…


Can you spot him??



In the frenzy and mayhem, one unlucky wildebeest got his feet tangled in the roots on the bank of the Mara river, and I can only guess that he got trampled by his herdmates as they piled into the river…

As the hordes of wildebeest just scrambled over him, the life slowly ran out of his bones…

During the whole time we watched about 3 separate crossings around this area – and he was still wedged in there the whole time.


There is a deeper message here.

We can say what we want about the wonder of wildlife, but it remains a cruel world out there. Even as humans, so often we will all keep trampling the downtrodden and the broken among us, each of us so focused on our own mission, our own “safety in the crossing”, that we don’t see the need of those that we might be so well placed in life to help out.  But in essence, what elevates us from the animal kingdom is exactly this – the ability to show compassion and kindness and to lay our own interests down for the sake of others.  That is a choice we can make, our volition and moral compass enable us to be better than the animals that are purely driven by instinct.

May we all take the welfare of others to heart and recognise when people close to us are tangled up and downtrodden.

May we use those moments to stop, turn back, and help them up…instead of diving into the raging river of life all alone and on our own mission.


Morkel Erasmus

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Comments 17

  1. Patrick Frayne

    Great photos! The migration of the Gnu is nature doing its thing if only us humans would leave nature to its own devices in the Mare area all the animals would thrive. From the Gnu’s the the Elephants to the croc’s that attack the Gnu’s every animal has its place. Mare Mare is on my bucket list for sure!

  2. Joey Nel

    Wonderful images and a experience to treasure… so proud to say i had this wonderful experience with you on the Wildeye Safari!
    Thanx for sharing Morkel.

    1. Morkel Erasmus

      Hey Noel – first off it was already dead when we arrived, and secondly we never interfere with the natural way of nature, it’s bad practice – thousands of these wildebeests drowned in the crossings that week in any event…that’s the nature of the spectacle and this provides lots of food for the crocodiles and scavengers

  3. Rosemary Martin

    Wow, so sad. I was touched by the comparison you made. The natural world is harsh and unyielding. As humans, we have the ability to look after others, to help others. As I read this post, I was reminded of how short life is, and how important it is to make good use of the time we have.

  4. Anjana Mukerji

    I am so touched by your estimate Mr. Erasmus but to tell you the truth, this is what our scriptures in Hinduism predict and say…as if you have read them and understood them so much. Whenever I watch wild life movies and your pics specially I am reminded of all what true religion(maybe be any) teaches to us humans, to be humane and kind and intelligent. Very good understanding. You seem to be a very thoughtful and enriched person. Congrates. Regards, anjana

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  5. Faraaz Abdoool

    Another great post, Morkel. That last photo is so chilling, I can’t stop staring at it. One day I will make it to one (or more!) of your photo-safaris, and finally get to experience what I’ve spent most of my life dreaming of.

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