This took place in November last year, when we were at Siwandu, in the Selous game reserve. In the late morning, we were slowly on our way back to the camp, when we came on it.
The road was running through wooded glades, when we spotted on the right, at about 20/25 meters, on the ground, the martial eagle and its prey, a big rock monitor. The capture probably occured not long before we arrived, the lizard was of course still alive. A part of its tail was missing but that was the result of another battle for life, I guess ?
The martial eagle was not on familiar ground, and as a consequence, worried. We decided not to go closer, so as not to add more to its stress, manifested by regular squeals and anxious looks in all directions, a similar behavior a cheetah can have when having caught a prey, or a leopard in the same situation when there are no trees or thick bushes around. The problem, for the martial eagle, was not to find a place to go with its prey, there were some suitable trees around, but first to weaken its prey and then to fly away with it. That was perhaps a bit too ambitious, the weight of a full grown rock monitor is about 8 to 9 kilos ?
When we arrived on the sighting, I said to Allen, my guide, that I wanted to stay until the end. As we were, my wife and myself, the only guests on the car, it was very easy for him to agree.
While we were there, another car arrived. Fortunately they stayed at an acceptable distance and were gone after several minutes.
To weaken its prey, the eagle tried to blind it.
A quick look at us.
I was surprised by this move. First attempt of the eagle to fly away with its prey.
It’s a failure, back on the ground
Another look to us.
New attempt to blind its prey
Third look at us
One more attempt to blind its prey, in the other eye this time.
No look at us anymore, we are now part of the scenery.
New attempt of the eagle to fly away with its prey.
It’s a failure once again, back on the ground.
Now, it’s moving to change its grip on the lizard. The talons are really impressive !
Two more attempts to fly away resulting in two more failures
A last attempt to blind the lizard.
Obviously, after a succession of failed attempts to take off with its prey, the eagle decided to drag it towards a tree.
Finally, it gave up to it and went on the tree where it kept a close eye on the weakened monitor.
In normal conditions, the monitor is fast. There, its strength had dramatically declined, it had lost one eye and a small part of its internal organs was out through a hole made by the eagle’s claw (visible on the third picture). After a short moment of wavering, it decided to go in the road’s direction. It was moving like it was in slow motion. The martial eagle tried a last attempt to catch it in flight like fish eagles do with a fish, but it failed, and went on a tree on the other side of the road. When the monitor reached the road, it disappeared behind a tree that was alongside. It did not reappear on the other side. So, we moved to discover that there was a big hole in the trunk, about three meters from the ground.
End of the story, that lasted 30 minutes, back to the camp.