WATCH: Brown snake eagle makes light meal of puff adder

2019-07-18 15:00
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This is the moment a Brown Snake Eagle was doing what it does best, catching a snake! But this Puff Adder, as injured as it was, was still trying hard to slither away.

Graeme Mitchley, educator at Hurlyvale Primary School, captured this amazing sighting recently when he was visiting the Kruger National Park saying, "I love visiting the Kruger National Park and am lucky enough to visit often. Every day is different in the park, you just never know what is around the next bend. I was lucky enough to come across this sighting one afternoon while heading back to Lower Sabie on the H10."

Mitchley describes H10 as one his favourite roads in the park, and fortunately enough he says there was only one other car around at the time. 

"Besides the beautiful landscapes and scenery, there is always an abundance of wildlife. Late afternoon is the best time to head back to Lower Sabie with the sun behind you! Just before this sighting, I had seen large herds of zebra and wildebeest heading down to the nearby waterhole. Earlier in the day, I was lucky enough to spot a herd of Sable antelope near the S129 north entrance."

"It is always nice to enjoy a sighting without too many other cars around. Some sightings become overcrowded and are not enjoyable. This is an extremely rare sighting, the first time I have witnessed a sighting of this sort!

Mitchley says those set to visit the park should drive slowly to ensure they can spot anything.

"If I had been driving too fast in this instance the bird would have got a fright and flown off and the sighting would have been spoilt."

Admittedly the sighting is pretty gruesome he says.

"The puffadder had been slowly slithering across the road when it was attacked by the Brown Snake-eagle... it then began to eat and tear the snake apart while it was still alive."

"I felt sorry for the snake and it was a sighting that was not easy to watch. Even now when I watch the video I get upset when watching the snake suffering. Not many people like snakes but this was a painfully slow death."

Mitchley says the eagle had the snake so well pinned down and had "possibly broken the snakes back which limited its movements" it could not even strike back.

The snake eagle tore the snake in half and soon after flew away to enjoy his supper with only the tail end in his beak, the end without venom.

"The venom glands are located in the head of the puffadder. This part of the snake was left lying on the road. The next morning when I drove the same route there was no evidence of the snake."

"I am not sure if the venom has any effect when the snake is dead or if the hyena avoids it somehow. It is a question a snake expert could possibly answer. All I know is that, after observing them closely for many years, wild animals are extremely smart and their instincts are highly developed! “

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