AFRICAN CROWNED HAWK-EAGLE AND VERVET MONKEY
The African Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) is a huge, powerful eagle of forest and dense woodland with a wide sub-Sahelian range. Monkeys and other mammals, especially hyrax and small antelope, make up most of its prey, less frequently birds and reptiles may be taken.
We witnessed a failed attempt by a sub-adult hawk-eagle to capture a young Vervet Monkey in Pretoriuskop camp, Kruger National Park. A troop of “camp” monkeys was foraging in a treed clearing ringed by accommodation units in the early morning when the eagle came in at a shallow angle and grasped the monkey with the right foot. Immediately adult members of the troop rushed at the eagle before it could raise its prey from the ground and it was forced to drop the monkey and beat an undignified retreat. If this had been an adult bird it would almost certainly have carried the prey away.
The young vervet was still breathing shallowly but not moving. Injuries to the lower spine and chest, caused by the talons of the eagle, were obvious. At this stage the mother rushed to it, pulled it to her chest and it weakly held onto her coat with its hands and it was obvious the hind legs were paralyzed but she managed to carry it into a tree. There was considerable blood loss and after perhaps five minutes the young monkey dropped to the ground. The female descended and retrieved the now dead youngster and carried it away over the camp fence and we lost contact. Other troop members remained close to and on the huts, calling, defecating and urinating profusely. Once they had calmed down they followed in the direction the female had taken.