By Jamie Smith
Dozens of birds have been caught fleeing for their lives as a hungry jackal catches prey in the desert.
These impressive photos, captured by John Mullineux, 34, from Secunda, South Africa, was visiting the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park in the Kalahari Desert.
The images show the black-backed jackal hunting for birds at a waterhole – and despite dozens fleeing for their life, his hunting skills worked as he’s seen carrying a dead bird in his mouth.
John, a production manager, said: “I had seen some images of this specific jackal hunting birds- I planned a solo trip of two weeks of which four days were about this jackal.
“The dream shot was to have the jackal catch a bird while the jackal is in the air – little did I know I could get one where there was the anticipation of the jackal catching a bird.
“The splash behind the jackal together with the open mouth around a bird while other birds escape made this image stand out.
“It is this single image that made me realise I wanted to spend more of my time taking wildlife photographs.
“As there is little food in the Kalahari Desert, this jackal has learnt to hunt birds, the doves and sandgrouse come to drink shortly after sunrise in huge flocks.
“The sandgouse are particularly vulnerable as they fill their breast feathers with water which they take back to their nests to keep the eggs cooled from the African sun – while they are soaked they take longer to take off, allowing the jackal more time to find breakfast.
“I was excited to get to see the jackal hunt -the first morning I was at the waterhole there was no jackal to be seen.
“The action involved in each shotgun approach attack was captivating as I never knew whether the dog or birds would win- there were five successful hunts while I watched, and many, many misses.
“As the day got hotter the jackal got lazier, then I knew it was time to go and look for other game only to return the following morning.”