Watching eagles hunt is always fascinating. These magnificent predators swoop through the air gracefully, grabbing their unsuspecting prey with long, razor-sharp talons and are capable of hauling away shockingly large prey.
But even smaller, less grandiose moments can be interesting, too.
Recently, a family on safari got to witness one of these encounters when a martial eagle snatched and killed a baby warthog right before their eyes.
Nazeem Mohammed, a 49-year-old trade finance banker had been watching a family of warthogs in South Africa’s Kruger National Park when the grizzly scene unfolded.
“At first, just filming the warthog, it appeared to be an uneventful, run-of-the-mill drive. For some reason, I kept filming as the piglets ran from beneath one tree to the next before crossing over the road,” Mohammed told LatestSightings.com. “My family and I were completely unaware of the martial eagle who remained hidden until the piglets crossed the road in the open.”
True to its nature as an ambush predator, that’s when the eagle made its move. Seemingly swooping in out of nowhere, the massive bird grabbed an unlucky piglet and patiently held the squirming prey between its giant claws until it died.
“Only once the eagle hooked its target did I realize just what a remarkable sighting I had just caught! Excitement naturally took over,” said Mohammed.
After killing the warthog, the eagle immediately flew to a high perch and didn’t return to the ground to feed until several hours later.
With a wingspan ranging from 6 to 8 feet and the larger females weighing up to 14 pounds, martial eagles are the largest eagle species on the African continent. Their size belies astonishing power, too. The birds reportedly have enough power in one foot to break a person’s arm and are capable of knocking an adult man of his feet.
The eagles typically hunt while in flight, zeroing in a wide variety of prey from as far as 4 miles away and stooping sharply to grab their targets. But occasionally, they will hunt from a high perch or concealed behind vegetation.
Martial eagles are classified a Vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN and are frequent targets of local farmers due to their habit of preying on livestock and game.