Goliath heron, Kruger National Park, South Africa
© Johan Swanepoel/Alam
Huddled and hunting. Goliath heron in Kruger National Park, South Africa
You are looking at the largest living heron in the world, the goliath heron, waiting for prey to swim by in Kruger National Park, South Africa. This wading bird belongs to the Ardeidae family and is often referred to as the giant heron due to its enormous size—reaching up to 1.5 metres in height and sporting a 2.1-metre wingspan. The goliath heron is a solitary creature, renowned for its exceptionally slow hunting style movements and preference for aquatic habitats such as lakes and swamps. They forage in deep waters and feast on large fish like mullet and tilapia. They also consume smaller animals including frogs, snakes and lizards. These non-migratory birds are found commonly in sub-Saharan Africa, and sparsely in western and southern regions of Asia.