The Hunter’s High Road

Walking A Tight Rope With The Bateleur Eagle

A feature named ‘The Hunter’s High Road.’ Check back to see an animal that represents the apex of predatory evolution. Carnivores come in a range of shapes and sizes, using a variety of tricks to catch their prey. Some are powerful, some are beautiful. All are deadly.

The hunter I’m focusing on today is the Bateleur Eagle, named after the French word for street performer. The name comes from the bird’s characteristic habit of rocking its wings from side to side when gliding. This gives it the appearance of a tight-rope walker, as if the eagle is catching its balance.

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The (Tasmanian) Devil You Know

A feature named ‘The Hunter’s High Road.’ Check back to see an animal that represents the apex of predatory evolution. Carnivores come in a range of shapes and sizes, using a variety of tricks to catch their prey. Some are powerful, some are beautiful. All are deadly.

Predators don’t have to be big and intimidating to be top hunters, and that is the case with the Tasmanian Devil. Native only to Tasmania, the carnivorous marsupial is known for its powerful bite, distinctive screech and ferocity when it comes to feeding. The size of a small dog, Tasmanian Devils have large, thick heads with males being bigger than females. Males have an average body length of 10.2 inches while females are 9.6 inches.

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The Sleek And Deadly Leopard Seal


A feature named ‘The Hunter’s High Road.’ Check back to see an animal that represents the apex of predatory evolution. Carnivores come in a range of shapes and sizes, using a variety of tricks to catch their prey. Some are powerful, some are beautiful. All are deadly.

seal1When thinking of seals a popular image is seeing them as small, cute and cuddly with bright, innocent eyes. Not every seal is docile, particularly in the case of the leopard seal. At a length of 2.4-3.5m and weighing from 440 to 1320lbs the animal is the second largest species in the Antarctic. They are apex predators, second only to killer whales in their dominance of Antarctica.

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The Roar Of The Jaguar

A feature named ‘The Hunter’s High Road.’ Check back to see an animal that represents the apex of predatory evolution. Carnivores come in a range of shapes and sizes, using a variety of tricks to catch their prey. Some are powerful, some are beautiful. All are deadly.

jag1Big cats are some of the most successful predators on the planet, using their strength, speed and agility to catch prey. One of the most mysterious is the jaguar, whose habitat varies from dense rainforest to open scrubland. They are ambush predators who live a solitary life, feeding on animals ranging from deer to sloths.

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Ruling The Sky With The Eagle-Owl

A feature named ‘The Hunter’s High Road.’  Check back to see an animal that represents the apex of predatory evolution. Carnivores come in a range of shapes and sizes, using a variety of tricks to catch their prey. Some are powerful, some are beautiful. All are deadly. 

owl2A hunter that I’ve admired for many years is the Eurasian Eagle-Owl because of its speed, precision and beauty when in flight. One of the largest species, females grow up to 75cm with a wingspan of over 6 feet. They’re known for distinctive orange eyes and ear tufts that rise out of the face. Eagle-owls can be found in different habitats, ranging from mountain ranges to coniferous forests. With an estimated population of between 250 thousand and 2.5 million, the species is one of the most widely distributed.

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A Living Dragon

A weekly feature named ‘The Hunter’s High Road.’  Each Tuesday check back to see an animal that represents the apex of predatory evolution. Carnivores come in a range of shapes and sizes, using a variety of tricks to catch their prey. Some are powerful, some are beautiful. All are deadly. 

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The predator on display this week is the Komodo Dragon, the largest species of lizard in the world. Measuring up to a maximum length of 3 metres, these creatures are native to the island of Komodo for which they’re named after. Their large size has been linked to island gigantism, since there are no other carnivores to fill the niche of top predator.

The lizards have a highly developed sense of smell, enabling them to locate an animal from up to 9.5 km away. Despite mostly eating carrion, the lizards prey on pigs, monkeys, goats, birds and a variety of others through ambush tactics. When prey arrives, the Komodo Dragon charges it and attacks the underside of the throat.

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Power Personified, The Polar Bear

A weekly feature named ‘The Hunter’s High Road.’  Each Tuesday check back to see an animal that represents the apex of predatory evolution. Carnivores come in a range of shapes and sizes, using a variety of tricks to catch their prey. Some are powerful, some are beautiful. All are deadly. 

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Strength plays a large role in a carnivore’s ability to take down prey. And few others match the strength of a polar bear when it’s in the middle of a hunt. Considered the largest land predator alive, the polar bear is actually a marine mammal because it spends months of the year at sea. Powerful limbs ensure it is capable of covering miles on foot in wintery lands such as Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Russia and Norway.

Adult male polar bears reach up to 7-9ft long and weigh between 350-700kgs. They are perfectly adapted to their environment with large feet to distribute weight when walking on snow and ice, or to provide propulsion in water. The pads of their paws are covered with small dermal bumps which are beneficial for traction. Their claws are short and stocky in order to grip prey. The scooped nature of the claws helps the polar bear to dig and shift ice rapidly.

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The Fast and Furriest Cheetah

A weekly feature named ‘The Hunter’s High Road.’ (Somewhat late this week) Each Tuesday check back to see an animal that represents the apex of predatory evolution. Carnivores come in a range of shapes and sizes, using a variety of tricks to catch their prey. Some are powerful, some are beautiful. All are deadly. 

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Predators rely on all kinds of tools to hunt their prey – strength, speed, cunning, environment and tenacity. On the plains of Africa, one animal becomes the embodiment of speed to chase after its prey. The Cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world, reaching up to 110-120 kilometres per hour in short busts. These big cats are among the most evolutionary robust animals in the world.

Coarse, short fur speckled with 2-3 cm round black spots provide camouflage on the savannah. Black ‘tear marks’ dotted around the corner of the eyes keep sunlight out and lets the Cheetah see for long distances. A lithe build makes it perfectly built for high speed chases in short bursts.

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The Honey Badger, AKA The Most Fearless Animal In The World

A weekly feature named ‘The Hunter’s High Road.’ Each Tuesday check back to see an animal that represents the apex of predatory evolution. Carnivores come in a range of shapes and sizes, using a variety of tricks to catch their prey. Some are powerful, some are beautiful. All are deadly.

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When thinking of the most fearless animal in the world it’s easy to imagine something large, like a bear or lion. But that title belongs to something much smaller. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most fearless animal in the world is the Honey Badger. A member of the mustelid family, Honey Badgers have more in common with weasels than other badger species. The animal’s fearlessness is one of many reasons it’s being featured in this week’s Hunter’s Highroad.

Reaching up to 77cm in body length, Honey Badgers are native to Africa and are armed with a set of skills that help them survive the harsh environment. Alongside sharp claws and teeth they have thick skin that is resilient against damage.

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Colourful and Deadly – The Cone Shell.

A weekly feature named ‘The Hunter’s High Road.’ Each Tuesday check back to see an animal that represents the apex of predatory evolution. Carnivores come in a range of shapes and sizes, using a variety of tricks to catch their prey. Some are powerful, some are beautiful. All are deadly.

Conus-geographicus

This week I’m covering the Cone Shell, an ocean dwelling snail that has a sting venomous enough to be fatal to humans. With over 800 species they are found in warm and tropical waters, reaching great diversity in the Western Indo Pacific region. The snails lives on coral reefs and sand. When living in sand they bury themselves with only the siphon protruding on the surface.

What makes the Cone Shell an efficient predator is the method of hunting. Each snail is equipped with a poisonous harpoon used to skewer and paralyse prey. The harpoon is a modified tooth that forms inside the mouth in a structure called the radula. The tooth is barbed and hollow, attached to the tip of the radula. When a snail detects prey it extends a flexible tube called a proboscis. The harpoon tooth is fired via a powerful muscle contraction and the prey is paralysed instantly.

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