Wild Frontiers

Dethroned by a fat fish

Every few years I travel to Mabalingwe Nature Reserve in the Limpopo Province of South Africa and the highlight of each trip is the pair of African fish eagles who reign over the majority of the larger bodies of water in the area. One cool winter’s evening I was lucky enough to witness this king of the African skies being brought down to size by a mere fish.

fish-eagle-perch

After watching the still water from his perch for a large portion of the evening, he locked onto his prey and swooped down to claim his prize. A few seconds later he hit the water with fish in claw, ready to complete his mandatory take off to a nearby perch to reap the spoils.

fish-eagle-mabalingwe african-fish-eagle-wings

To say his exit was less than graceful would be a huge understatement. Every time he tried to leave the muddy water the large fish would pull him straight back in again and drag him further into the depths.

fish-eagle-and-catfish african-fish-eagle

Using lily pads as leverage, he managed to drag the feisty fish onto shore where he had the upper hand, all of which lasted around 25 minutes.

fish-eagle-and-catch fish-eagle-wings fish-eagle-with-catch

Exhausted but triumphant, the eagle needed a few moments to recover from his ordeal. In the end the fish may have won the battle but Africa’s finest won the war!

fish-eagle-catch

His meal was so heavy that he wasn’t able to retreat to the safety of a nearby branch with his prize, so I left him as he pecked away on the side of the muddy bank as the sun set over the surrounding mountains.

fish-eagle

My name is Chad Wright and I'm a part-time wildlife photographer based in Johannesburg. I've been shooting seriously for a few years and am driven by a complete love for the bush and all things wild. Some of my favourite places to travel are Kruger, Kgalagadi, Pilanesberg, Mountain Zebra and De Hoop Nature Reserve. Follow me on Facebook and on my website.

  • Marilyn

    O wow! What fabulous photographs and what a battle. Thank you for sharing them. They are glorious birds. Utterly magical.

    • Chad Wright

      Thanks a lot Marilyn! 😀

  • Wendy Hawkins

    Wow Chad these pictures are absolutely stunning! He’s my absolute favourite eagle, but seeing him like this was obviously “embarrassing” for him, judging by the beady eye you were getting 🙂 Thank you so much.

    • Chad Wright

      Thanks for the input Wendy 😀

  • Anja Denker

    Great photos and story Chad! 🙂

    • Chad Wright

      Thank you Anja 🙂

  • Chad Wright

    Thanks a lot guys! 😀

AG Kariega Photo Safari
Climbing Mount Nyiragongo
Africa Geographic