Expert hunters of snakes, secretarybirds rank among the Kgalagadi’s most charismatic raptors. When Marius Kritzinger came across one grappling with a puff adder, he captured a sighting to remember.

Wild Card member Marius Kritzinger from Somerset West recently visited the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park for the 21st time. What he encountered on his latest trip was nothing short of incredible.

“We were returning to Nossob Camp from a brunch we had had with friends at the Auchterlonie picnic spot. Driving north up the Nossob Valley we saw a pair of secretarybirds walking approximately 50 metres from the road on a hill. One of them suddenly stopped and without its familiar war dance – both feet and wings trampling and clapping – attacked something on the ground with a vengeance.”

KgalagadiSecretarybird1-MariusKritzinger-Apr2015

“The secretarybird seized a fully grown, large puff adder by its head while it was still alive and wriggling. I could see that the puff adder’s had only one wound . . . Proof that it was not mauled by the bird before it attempted to swallow it.”

KgalagadiSecretarybird2-MariusKritzinger-Apr2015

“When it momentarily stopped wriggling, I could see just how large the puff adder was. The height of an adult secretarybird is approximately 1,4 metres and judged by this, the length of the puff adder caught by this bird could easily have been 1,5 metres.”

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

“To the amazement of my wife and I – and the bird’s partner – the feast was too much for the bird to keep down. It proceeded to regurgitate the whole snake.”

“The bird started to trample the snake and kicked it vigorously. We could see several wounds, so the snake must have been fatally injured and ready to be consumed.”

KgalagadiSecretarybird-MariusKritzinger-Apr2015

“The process of gulping down the snake started all over again – this time it was successful. The secretarybird was intensely watched by its friend, but the other had to make do without lunch that day. There wasn’t even a morsel left.”

“By sharing this experience with other Wild fans we hope to encourage others to visit the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Not only to look for lions, cheetahs and leopards, but also for other wildlife and birds – sometimes these are more exciting and interesting than the big cats.”

Thank you for sharing this great sighting with us, Marius.