Gabriela Benavides, a wildlife vet, went to the Kruger National Park in early August and after an awesome sighting with 2 honey badgers, they were getting ready to head back when they decided to drive one more loop.
"As we turned, my husband spotted a snake in a mud hole, which was quite unusual for winter time. A bird flew away as soon as we stopped and while we were trying to figure out what type of snake was it, the bird, a grey-headed bush-shrike, started tugging at something that also pulled the snake. Soon we realized they were the intestines of the snake - a Rufous Beaked Snake. At a closer look, it didn’t have eyes anymore and there was blood on its face. The bird kept pulling and pecking on the snake, and the snake kept opening its mouth as a threat, but couldn’t do much else to defend itself in its weak state."
“At first, we got excited, but as we figured out what was going on, it became gruesome and sad. It was obvious the bird was winning so we just hoped it ended quickly for the snake. We knew it was nature but took all our strength to stay on and be witnesses of how cruel sometimes the circle of life is.“The bird got a chunk out of the hole where the intestines were sticking out and flew away with it. The snake didn’t move after that, the head was in a hole in the mud, so we couldn’t see any movement of the tongue and we assumed it was dead. It took another 20 minutes for the fight to be over.”
“I have never seen a bird so small kill a snake for what looked like a meal. In fact, I never even thought a snake would on its menu. We first thought it was defending its nest, but in the end, the bird took a big piece of some internal organ of the snake, which ultimately killed it. It was a once in a lifetime sighting.”
“Never underestimate a sighting that is not as glamorous as the big 5, because you might end up being a witness of a unique experience that takes you through so many emotions at once, from excitement, doubt, horror, sadness and even empathy for a snake which most of the times we fear. Every minute spent in the Kruger is worth it, as one never knows what might be around the next corner.”