This eagle-snake-cat fight left viewers in awe and after watching the clip, it’s easy to see why.
While cruising through South Africa’s Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Nkorho Rangers guide Pieter Dannhauser captured the intense freedom that ensues after a leopard tries to steal an octopus . . from the black mamba coil.
Team Nkorho believes the snake eagle attacked first. Black mambas spend a lot of time in trees, so birds are often on their menu, but avian predators of this size would be too large to be eaten. It could be that the snake is trying to defend itself and stay for good measure.
“I still can’t believe it,” Dannhuser recalls. “On safari, you never really know what’s going to happen or what you’ll run into. The poor eagle thinks mamba is going to be an easy meal.”
A longer video of the incident was also recorded by nature guide Sipps Swagger
True to their name, the brown snake eagle (Circaetus cinereous) feeds almost exclusively on snakes, and this species has developed an impressive natural tolerance to venom. But in this case, the powerful coils of the mamba proved too strong.
Amazed onlookers aside, the messy acrobatics also caught the attention of “Thandi”, one of the park’s female cheetahs. Nkorho employee Liz Brown said: “It was a very unexpected sight for us. “Out of nowhere, Thandi and her cubs came across such a sight.”
After pushing his son aside for safety, Thandi joined the fray, repeatedly swiping his mamba card. Park staff suggested that she could hope to get a free meal by pushing the snake away – although things changed for the big cat when the snake eagle returned to action.
We’re happy to report that both Thandi and her cubs survived unharmed, but the clawed “cry” you see near the one-minute mark in Dannhauser’s video could be decisive. the fate of the eagle. “We are very fortunate to have witnessed this incredible sight,” he said. “It shows us how unexpected nature can be. This is definitely one of those books.”