We are now in the peak of the impala rutting season at Londolozi. The air is filled with sounds of male impala snorting, alarming and making strange growl-like noises. This is all in an effort to herd ewes into and rival males away from these territories. By doing so, impala rams are able to mate and ensure their genes are passed on to future generations.

Don Heyneke

Two impala rams clashing horns. Image by Don Heyneke

Unfortunately, many of these rutting rams become so distracted by their elaborate behaviour that most kills at this time of year tend to be impala rams. In addition, some physical disputes between rams become so serious that one challenger can be fatally injured. It was one of these rams – killed in a territorial fight – that was recently discovered by Londolozi guides. We decided to put a motion sensor camera trap in position to reveal what animals would visit the carcass. The images provide some interesting results! I hope you find them as interesting as we did!

Impala carcass, bateleur, camera trap

A juvenile bateleur eagle standing on the impala carcass

Bateleur eagles are said to be the first to arrive at kills. This was proven here as this juvenile bateleur is shown to arrive around mid-day. Interestingly, the eagle feeds on the eyes of the impala as it is unable to break through the hide.

A tawny eagle managed to break through the hide at the rear-end of the carcass.

The second to arrive at the impala was a tawny eagle. These eagles are also said to be good indicators as to the location of a carcass as they have incredible eyesight and like bateleurs, are often the first species at a kill.

White-backed vultures arrive on the scene.

One vulture attempts to break through the hide of the impala to gain access to the meat.

A lioness begins to feed on the impala. Notice how she arrived just 30 minutes after the vultures. The lion most likely came to investigate the area having watched the vultures descending to the ground.

The rest of the pride (Ntsevu Pride) moves in to get their fill. The next few images show how quickly the lions devoured this impala.

Hooded vultures search for scraps. These vultures are smaller than the white-backed vultures pictured earlier, and will often wait around the fringes of the area for their opportunity to move in.

A hyena investigates the area about 12 hours after the lions moved away. All that remains is the stomach contents of the impala.

In the constant fight to reproduce and survive, some individuals will lose their lives. However, the loss of one life provides vital sustenance to many others, hence the beautiful cycle of life continues in this cathedral of the wild.

Filed under Birds Lions Wildlife

About the Author

Pete Thorpe

Field Guide

Right from his very first bush trip at the age of four, Pete was always enthralled by this environment. Having grown up in the Middle East, Pete’s home-away-from-home has always been a bungalow in the Greater Kruger National Park, where his family had ...

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on What a Camera Trap Reveals About Visitors to an Impala Carcass

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