Fascinating encounter between a fish eagle and monitor lizard

By Simon Moore

This incident occurred in late March on the bank of the Mara River. A large catfish had died and was floating in the river. An immature fish eagle was standing on what looked like a rock in the river – but on investigation with binoculars, turned out to be the dead catfish.

African Fish Eagle

© Simon Moore

The fish eagle struggled to pull it out of the water on to the bank but eventually succeeded. We did not think that anything very exciting was going to happen so moved off to have breakfast. When we returned, the two adult fish eagles were standing on the ground near the remains of the fish and realised that a single monitor had appeared.

African Fish Eagle

© Simon Moore

African Fish Eagle

© Simon Moore

The monitor started to feed on the fish under the watchful eye of the eagle – before the confrontation occurred. In the below images you can see the epic battle that ensued between the two creatures.

African Fish Eagle

© Simon Moore

African Fish Eagle

© Simon Moore

African Fish Eagle

© Simon Moore

African Fish Eagle

© Simon Moore

African Fish Eagle

© Simon Moore

In the end it was the monitor that won the meal, and the eagles flew off, leaving the monitor to eat the fish in peace.

Africa Geographic travel director Christian Boix has been guiding bird tours for over 30 years, and had this to say about the unique sighting:

[quote]Had I been fortunate enough to share this unique moment with Simon I may have cheekily pre-empted that victory would belong to the Monitor Lizard. In my mind, there are very few things that a Monitor Lizard cannot get when they set their mind to it. I have seen them dig for days, and meters deep, after turtle or crocodile eggs.  I have witnessed them rip a Hornbill nest box to shreds; I have been whipped hard and sore by their tails when I thought I had already managed to call off their “puff-up” bluff. But foremost… I have seldom seen them stand down from a face-to-face encounter that they had chosen to attend.  I am truly in awe of their reptilian tenacity, their commitment and mindful engagement, smart tactics and ability to gauge their opponents. Standing up on its hind quarters, as Simon reports, is not something I have personally seen this species do. Simon’s amazing and valuable sighting adds another notch to the growing respect I have always had for this amazing species.[/quote]

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Africa Geographic Editorial

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  • http://pomskyhq.com/ PomskyHQ

    LOL…that is an awesome sequence of pictures. I love how the monitor bows up. He looks like the Geicko Gecko.

    When I saw the first picture I thought the bird was attacking the monitor while it swam in the river.

    Did you know that apparently you can buy monitor lizards as pets?

    http://exoticpetshq.com/lizards/monitor-lizards-for-sale/

    I am not sure that that is a good thing!

  • christine

    i love the pictures. jammer vir die voels wat hul kos verloor het maar ek dink dit is so oulik om tesien hoe die natuur werk.

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