Attack of the Sneaky Shoebill

The locals refer to the Congo as “the river that swallows all rivers.” And as the deepest and second largest river on Earth, the Congo is home to some extraordinary species. The Congo rises as a brook in the north of Zambia, which provides a stage for one of the world’s largest migrations of mammals. On its journey into the west, the river constantly increases in both size and power, just like its inhabitants.

Take for instance the mysterious Shoebill, one of the largest birds on Earth, which lurks in the dense papyrus of the Bangweulu Wetlands. Growing up to 4.5 feet tall, this bird preys on frogs, small crocodiles, and has a special taste for lungfish. Know for its gargoyle-like tendencies, the Shoebill can remain completely still for hours on end.

But the Shoebill isn’t the only predator lurking near this river. Meter-long pythons hunt down their prey in the trees while powerful hippopotamus bulls battle it out for control of the water. In order to survive in the Congo, these animals have had to adapt to the river’s extreme conditions, resulting in the evolution of some truly unique creatures. Some fish have lungs, others have wings, and can even hunt on land; but all are all prime examples of animals that can only be found in the Congo.

This Shoebill says to watch Wild Congo: River Monsters Sunday at 9P on Nat Geo WILD. (Or else).