The undertaker bird (a.k.a marabou stork) is one imposing creature: there's the huge bill, that cloaked appearance, the love of carrion ... the occasional shredded flamingo. But this jackal proves the smaller underdog can win the day with enough cunning determination.
"We were on our way out of the park ... when we decided to make one last stop to view the animals and birds at Kubu Dam," Swanepoel recalls. That last stop proved to be a good call as the group arrived just moments before the jackal got the drop on its next meal.
“I happened to notice that there was a jackal lying flat on the ground in front of us but we were distracted by the filming of the two elephants." In the blink of an eye, the jackal charged towards the marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer). These waders can stand some five feet (1.5 metres) tall, and that beak alone could inflict serious injury on an attacker. But with the jackal's go-for-the-neck strategy, the bird's main defence was of little use.
"I was feeling both shocked and amazed at the same time whilst watching this all unfold," adds Swanepoel. "I felt terribly sorry for the marabou but a meal is a meal…"
Top header image: Ronald Woan, Flickr