The Maasai Mara national game reserve in Narok, Kenya, is home to some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife. In fact, the prominent conservation area is world-renowned for its thriving populations of lion, leopard, cheetah, and elephant. The reserve also houses zebra, hippos, crocodiles, and the endangered black rhino, along with hundreds of other awe-inspiring species.
Truly a wonder of the natural world, The Mara and its countless wild residents are so gorgeous that you almost forget how shockingly cruel nature can be. But a handful of pictures submitted to a wildlife photography contest provided a stark reminder.
Among the pictures showcasing Kenya’s Maasai Mara were a herd of Topi in a purple-hued mist, a family of cheetahs surveying the land, and a male and female lion snuggling in the savanna. Then there were the more gruesome depictions of the reserve, such as a lion hunting down a wildebeest and a hippo bellowing in pain, another lion sinking its teeth into its chest.
Undeniably the most grisly of all, however, was a shot of a crocodile eating a zebra whole. As if that wasn’t nightmare-inducing enough, the zebra was just a baby. Not ready to vomit yet? The foal hadn’t yet been born. He was ripped from his mother’s stomach after she was killed by a nearby hippopotamus.
If you’re squeamish, I wouldn’t suggest scrolling any further.
Eyewitness Recounts Crocodile Swallowing the Zebra Foal Whole
Mark Van Kints, the German photographer who captured the crocodile’s disturbing dinner, later recounted the horrific scene. And it’s even worse than you’re probably imagining.
Not only did the crocodile eat a fetal zebra, but it did so after a hippo and a few smaller crocs tore its mother apart. “We arrived at the riverside when the mother zebra had already been killed and was only partially visible just above the surface,” he said, according to Nature is Metal.
“A hippo had taken interest in the body,” Kints continued. “[It] was fending off some smaller crocodiles that eventually managed to swim off with part of the intestines.”
At first, he thought he was capturing a simple case of a zebra falling victim to a group of predators. The photographer then realized, however, that the zebra was pregnant.
“A massive crocodile entered the scene – and started thrashing the body,” he said. “It [then] became clear the mother was pregnant.”
“In a matter of seconds, the crocodile had managed to isolate the foal from the rest of the body, reducing it to a rather gruesome one-bite-sized meal. And it took only a few more seconds to devour the whole thing.”