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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One giant leap over the jaws of death: Tiny gazelle escapes hungry crocodiles by jumping straight over them

By Daily Mail Reporter

Some may call it brave, others simply a death wish, but exactly what went through this little gazelle’s head before he decided to jump straight into the jaws of two awaiting crocodiles we will never know.

The petite animal had a lucky escape from the hungry predators after it managed to leap straight over their open mouths.

The incredible scene took place on the banks of the Mara River, in the Masai Mara in Kenya as a herd of Thomson’s gazelles were crossing a river where a group of menacing crocs were lying in wait.

David and Goliath: One of the crocodiles goes in for the kill open-mouthed but the little gazelle escapes with a death-defying jump straight over its head

Faced with the monstrous predators, which can measure 16 feet in length and weigh a ton, the gazelle’s chances of survival looked slim.

But, incredibly, it jumped clean over them as it bounded across the water.

Photographers Jonathan and Angela Scott were shooting the young Thomson’s gazelles as they navigated their way across the perilous waters of the Mara River attempting to outsmart 12 crocodiles ready for lunch.

Mr Scott, 63, said: ‘There are often a number of crocodiles resting in the shallows or on the river bed and if a herd comes down to the river you may get other crocodiles powering through the water to try and catch them if they try and cross.

‘The crocodiles do not lunge out of the water to try and catch the gazelles as they drink because they are very quick and nervous and don't drink for long.

‘Instead, they tend to try and catch them when they are in the water because it's easier.’

The gazelles who come to drink by the river do so during the hottest hours of the day as predators are more likely to be lying in the shade.

Mr Scott added: ‘This particular site is also very dangerous to cross because the other side of the river has a 12 to 18 feet tall bank and it can be hard to find a way out.

‘The antelopes and gazelles sometimes just decide to cross after drinking regardless of how easy it is for them to exit.’

Leap of faith: The gazelle takes the plunge and bounds across the water as two crocodiles approach with menacing-looking grins

Jumpin' Jack Flash: The tiny animal jumps high above the hungry crocodiles but it the gazelle's chance of survival looked slim with the giant predators' jaws snapping underneath it

Mr and Mrs Scott live in Nairobi, Kenya, and have been photographing in the Masai Mara for 35 years.

Mr Scott said: ‘Action is one of the most exciting moments for us as wildlife photographers.

‘Things happen very quickly with wildlife in these kind of “life and death” situations and you have to be ready to capture the moment.

‘You have to know what is going to happen next and be there to photograph it.

‘Predation like this can be harrowing to watch but we have spent so much of our lives in the field that these life and death situations are part of everyday life.

‘To us they seem just part of the natural order rather than horrifying.’

One who dares wins: Against all odds, the gazelle jumped clean over them as it bounded across the water of the the Mara River, in the Masai Mara, Kenya



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