Thousands of gnus were running around like crazy, in all directions, abruptly changing direction, overtaking one another, running even faster – it looked like a mad dance. It was a very wet late afternoon on the savannah in the Mara Triangle, Kenya. A thunderstorm had passed but the air still was electric. And the gnus felt it.
Our guides had taken it for granted that no one would be crazy enough to want to go for a game drive on such a wet afternoon, sitting on soaked seats in a jeep with seriously leaking roofs.
But we were four out of our group of 11 photo enthusiasts who were that crazy.
We were staying in the wonderful Mara Engai lodge, which is situated high up on a hill. The road down to the savannah is very (and I mean very) steep, and with all the rain it had become extremely slippery. Luckily our guide Daniel knew what he was doing.
Our jeep kept sliding left and right, mud splashing, water splashing, rain dripping and running in the jeep but we didn’t regret for one second that we were there, on the savannah, in the rain.
Vultures seemed even more than usual on the alert in the trees. And now on the right we spotted a hyena running close to the gnus. And there another one on the left!
The threat was in the air. The gnus were running for a reason, they were running for their life.
Before I knew, the hyena on the left had attacked a gnu that had become isolated from the rest and had it on the ground. The gnu was still alive, the hyenas were biting, gnawing and chewing, it was cruel to witness.
More hyenas appeared, biding their time, looking forward to their meal.
But this gnu wasn’t any gnu, it was one that didn’t easily give up. It kicked away its attackers and stood up, bleeding from an eye, from its stomach and from its leg. What a will to live! It bravely stood eye to eye with the hyenas, who cautiously backed off for a moment.
Suddenly the gnu came running towards the jeep, seeking protection, I assume. It wasn’t easy to see the suffering but oh how courageous it was. Of course we could do nothing, we had to let nature take its course.
The gnu couldn’t win the battle, before long the hyenas had it on the ground once more. Its minutes were counted now.
It made a last attempt to shake off the hyenas who were feasting on it, but this time it no longer had the strength.
All of us who witnessed its courageous fight to live will forever remember it as a Most Extraordinary Gnu.
Humans are learning to climb out of the “kill or be killed” past. That sets us apart from our animal relatives. We can hope.
LikeLiked by 1 person