The Grim Dance of Death: Eagle Hunts, Kills, and Soars


A martial eagle successfully hunts and catches a large lizard, he looks for a more peaceful tree, so carries the lizard and flies away.

On a recent trip to Kruger National Park, 23-year-old student Clyde Mc Dougall had the incredible opportunity to witness this amazing display and shared it with

“We were driving from Skukuza to Lower Sabie during the late afternoon. Not anticipating much, we were pretty curious when we saw a vehicle stopped ahead in the road. Pulling alongside the vehicle, hoping to see what they were looking at, we were pleasantly surprised.”

“A large martial eagle was perched high in a dead tree on the road side. In its claws, tightly secured, was a large monitor lizard. This eagle had clearly just hunted! It was incredible to see at such close range the sheer size of this eagle.”

Martial eagles are known to be one of the largest and most powerful eagles in Africa. They are easily identifiable by their black and white plumage. Adults can have a wingspan of up to 2.6 meters. The eagles have impressive hunting skills and people have seen them take down prey as large as antelopes, baboons, and even small crocodiles.

“The eagle pecked at the lizard a few times but eventually became irritated with the presence of the vehicles. As if seeing the eagle eating a lizard was not enough. The eagle tightly held the lizard and took flight, soaring the width of the Sabie river with complete ease.”


Martial eagles are so successful at hunting large prey because of their powerful talons. These talons are capable of exerting over 1000 pounds of pressure per square inch. That is strong enough to crush the skulls of their prey. Additionally, martial eagles are incredibly fast and agile in flight, allowing them to swoop down on their prey with great precision and speed.
“Perching on the other end of the river bed, the eagle was able to enjoy its meal in peace. We are fairly new to visiting the Kruger National Park, and seeing a sighting like this really left us in awe of the beauty of this incredible place.”

Days like these serve as a testament that it does not matter how many times you visit the Kruger. Rather, it is down to luck to determine your sightings. Being in the right place at the right time is often the difference between seeing nothing and seeing something remarkable.



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