Battle Royal between Martial Eagle and Rock Monitor

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A martial eagle Polemaetus bellicosus shows Mombo guests exactly how it derived its name in an epic battle lasting nearly four hours against a rock monitor Varanus albigularis

Guests arriving at Mombo Camp stumbled onto the scene just as the eagle swooped down to take on the giant lizard, which must have been relocating from one tree to another. The eagle came down like a combat warrior and subdued the monitor with its gigantic talons.

The lizard was not giving up easily, and held onto its life with determination. Occasionally getting hold of the eagle’s toes, it tried to fight back with its powerful jaws (which can crush birds and large hard-carapace insects like egg shells). From time to time the strong reptile would stand up and walk a few steps with the eagle firmly attached to its torso in its inch long claws. The lizard’s tail whipped furiously in annoyance until it eventually succumbed to the largest eagle in Africa.

The battle was not totally over though, as the eagle seriously battled to open the monitor lizard to get to the tasty flesh inside. Even with a 2.2-inch hooked beak, the dorsal skin proved way too tough for this warrior like bird. Eventually the eagle rolled the limp lizard over and ripped it open from the underside.

“What a welcoming to Mombo!” our guests exclaimed as they pulled into the entrance circle. Cameras and binos had luckily been at hand and they excitedly showed the camp personnel what they had witnessed on their three-hour journey to camp – which should have taken a mere 15 minutes…!

Written and Photographed by Deon de Villiers

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By Deon de Villiers

I have always had a passion for photographing wildlife and the natural world in any aspect. My aim has been to photograph the beauty around me and to ultimately build a database of images which will remind me of the road I have travelled... it's a personal thing, which luckily I am today able to share with those that are interested and who share the same passion. Today Kym and I live in Botswana with our two little children, and I manage the operations for number of Wilderness Safaris Delta based camps.

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