Africa is not called the ‘Dark Continent’ for nothing. Life is cheap in Africa and nowhere is that more evident than in a game reserve. Spend a couple of days driving through any one of our reserves and you will see death at every turn. It may be a bird eating a lizard or a mouse, a snake eating a bird or something much larger like a cheetah eating a buck. Death stalks almost every animal and very few are privileged to live without predators. You’d think that it would mainly be the smaller birds and animals that are at risk, but we found that even the enormous elephant is vulnerable and part of the food chain. On an early morning game drive in Chobe, Botswana, we came across a fresh carcass of a young elephant that had been attacked by lions during the night.
Elephants aren’t normally killed by lions as there are animals that are much easier for them to prey upon. However, we saw no less than three elephant carcasses in the space of about three days in Chobe recently, which showed that perhaps there is a new trend happening with the lions there. These kills certainly provide food for many different animals besides the lions. Apart from the jackals, hyenas and vultures that normally feast on carcasses, we also noticed a Tawny eagle protecting his piece of the action.
Even a little mongoose came along to see what was in it for him.
There is seldom a dull moment in Chobe and you have to keep your camera at the ready all the time. Tawny eagles are well worth keeping an eye on. We saw this one swoop down and catch a francolin, which it took up into a tree. Once it started eating, the feathers were literally raining down.
The raptors are always hungry. African fish eagles are ever-present and one can usually find one or two eating a fish.
We were surprised to see that even the Yellow-billed kite is not averse to fishing. This one (not photographed in Chobe, but at Kalizo Lodge) was an excellent fisherman as he perched above our tent every day with a fresh fish.
I think he fared better than many of the local anglers at the campsite.