Martial eagle atop dead tree

Caption: Martial eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus) keeps a lookout from its perch high up in a dead tree, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi); Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm USM IS telephoto zoom; Focal Length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/500; Aperture: f8; ISO: 200.

The martial eagle is the largest eagle in Africa, with a wingspan of 190-260 cm (6.25-8.5 ft). The female is considerably larger than the male. Both males and females have a dark head and throat, combined with a white, lightly spotted breast and belly and dark underwings. The legs are long and fully feathered.

The martial eagle flies very high — so high it can’t be seen with the naked eye. From such a lofty altitude this regal bird is able to scan a wide area for prey and then dive at devastating speed onto the victim. Martials are carnivores and their prey includes mammals like small antelope, hares, rabbits, hyraxes and warthog, reptiles as large as leguans, plus a variety of birds.

The above martial eagle picture was taken in the Kruger National Park, South Africa’s flagship game reserve that offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa.

Established in 1898, the park covers nearly 2 million hectares. As such, it is home to an impressive diversity of flora and fauna, including 507 different birds and 147 types of mammal. In addition to the “Big Five” – elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino – there are also large numbers of giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, hippo, antelope, and hyena. Less common but also seen by visitors on safari are cheetah and wild dog.

Kruger Park is mainly a self-drive destination with a good infrastructure of roads, waterholes, picnic sites, and restcamps. Accommodation options include chalets, cottages, bungalows, tents, caravan and camp sites or bushveld camps, bush lodges and private safari lodges. The official website is

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