In rare footage, golden eagle clutching onto a tortoise mid-air in order to drop it on a rock, a frequent tactic eagles use to crack the shell and devour the reptile, ‘This is one of the largest and most daring predators’, nature photographer says
Liron Shapira, a photographer from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, documented a rarely-seen moment of a golden eagle hold a tortoise in its talons during mid-flight near Nahal Bezeq in northern Israel.
“I was too busy documenting to notice how monumental that moment was,” said Shapira. “It’s only when I got home and enlarged the photos that I saw it was a land tortoise being clutched by a golden eagle. This is one of the largest and most daring predators.”
Avner Rinot, an Ornithologist in the Society for the Protection of Nature, added: “Young golden eagles have been residing along the Gilboa in recent years. A few years ago we saw one trying to isolate a fawn from a deer pack. These are exceptionally powerful predators.”
The largest of its kind in Israel, the golden eagle is able to take down a fox or a deer. Despite its physical prowess, its diet consists mainly of small mammals, birds and reptiles. In order to crack the protective shell of a tortoise, it will grab them with its powerful talons and drop them on rocks from great heights.The Nature and Parks Authority website states the golden eagle is critically endangered, as its population in Israel dwindled by 75% since the late 80s. A preservation project is underway to monitor and protect nesting sites from electrocution and other predators who might feast on eagle eggs.