They say travelers should always expect the unexpected and in Africa never be surprised at what you could see. We can honestly say that each bush trip we make is succinctly different from previous trips. No two trips are ever the same especially when it comes to sightings. But its the unusual sightings that stay in one’s memory and make that trip special.
Trawling through old trip files I came across a series of photos we took of a Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill trying to swallow what looks like either a Gerbil or an Elephant Shrew next to the road in the vicinity of Satara. The head was missing, so its very hard to tell what the animal was, but in one of the photos there is a hint of a black stripe down what looks like the tail which leans towards a Gerbil.
Personally I never expected to see a Hornbill with a meal like this. It had obviously killed it itself as it was alone in a large patch of barren grassland. So, for us at least, it was a very unusual and interesting sighting.
The Hornbill was really struggling to swallow its prize and spent the best part of about thirty minutes bashing swinging it round and bashing it on a dry log and on the ground. During this process it constantly made made attempts to flip and swallow it, but the animal was just too big. It would then rest a few moments before bashing it some more.
Finally after nearly forty five minutes it managed to force it down its throat and then just sat there, obviously pigged out. Unfortunately the last moments of the saga were made too far away and behind a clump of grass for any worthwhile photos to be taken. But what I got make for quite an interesting series of something you don’t get to see very often.