Written by: Greg Lederle from Lederle Safaris
I recently came across a unique sighting involving an African rock python, martial eagle and an unfortunate Egyptian goose. Whilst tracking lions in the Linyanti Swamps in northern Botswana, we spotted a martial eagle on the ground and stopped immediately, knowing it may be on a kill.
Once we scanned the raptor with our binoculars, we realised it was sitting about 10 metres away from an African rock python that was in the process of constricting an adult Egyptian goose, which must have strayed close enough for the hidden python to then catch it.
I assumed that, due to the air-sacs in birds, it would take a little longer to constrict the goose compared to a mammal of the same size.
The martial eagle knew it was vulnerable on the ground and kept an eye on proceedings and the surrounding bush. We could see it was only interested in the goose, as the snake would be too risky to take on.
Due to the sighting being so unique, and not wanting to disturb either the martial eagle or the python, we had pulled back the position of the vehicle to allow events to unfold as naturally as possible.
The eagle walked and flew around, whilst keeping an eye on the target as well as the surrounding bush. In doing this I am sure that the python saw the eagle, abandoning the (now dead) goose and sought shelter in a nearby wild sage thicket.
Now the martial eagle made its move. Walking in, wings spread giving the impression of size, and gave the dead goose a few solid talon grasps to ensure it was indeed dead and lifeless.
After several attempts of not being able to take off with the goose, the eagle dragged it (rather inelegantly) to a nearby mopani for cover and began plucking the goose.
After an hour, it was with reluctance that we decided, with the distant roaring of lions, to leave this enigmatic predator to enjoy its opportunistic meal in peace.
Certainly one of the most unique and unusual sightings I have witnessed, and it was one that, as a group, we will cherish and relive in the images we managed to capture in the magical Linyanti wilderness of Botswana.