Animal fights in the wild are usually the result of either the competition for mating rites or the competition for food. Both are critical for survival. One animal’s success may mean the other does not survive. Life in the bush is put on the line everyday.
The way the drama unfolds in each incident is a story unto itself. We were fortunate to experience these stories first hand.
Bad light, good fight (Giraffes)
It was nearly noon (an that means harsh light with heavy shadows) when we came across two male giraffes facing off. And there we found ourselves, on the edge of the ring watching an unusual fight.
One giraffe would wind up his neck and slam his head against the others back. The other would use a pendulum motion to swing his head between the other’s back legs trying to “hook a leg”. Slam, bam, swoop, and then the one giraffe, in a smooth motion, has “hooked a leg”. The leg of one is now on the back of the other and he begins to turn his body to try and knock the other off his feet. Ouch….. To us, we can’t believe the leg doesn’t snap in two. Who knew that Giraffes were contortionists?
It was only the third round, when spooked by a baboon, the two males galloped off in separate directions. The fight was left unfinished.
Wildebeest – rooting season
It is the time of the Wildebeest migration, and although the migration is delayed this year, the rooting season is not.
We were fortunate enough to see a few Wildebeest herds. Among them were many energetic males eager to prove themselves. They would run at each other, often at high speed, and then just before the encounter, both would go down on their knees. It was almost as if, upon meeting the other they put their head in the sand afraid of the outcome. The conflict was over in a minute and both would trot off. For us, we weren’t sure who triggered the display or who won.
Hyenas were plentiful and always looking for kill leftovers. In one instance we came across a huge crowd of assorted vultures on the ground… maybe 50 or more. Only when we stopped to take in the scene, could we see the Hyena trying to defend his dinner (a Wildebeest corpse) from the scavenging vultures, Jackals and his own Hyena buddy. I couldn’t help but wonder with all that energy focused on defending its meal, how did it get time to eat?
In another instance, a Hyena had taken its part of the leftovers for itself. It just was pretty gruesome to see that the body party it was roaming around with was actually a skull.
Lion on the hunt
We were lucky to see many lions and even a few lion hunts. On this particular hunt (a warthog was the target), a group of 8 lions had lined up like the receiving line of a football team, and the ninth lion circled around to drive the warthog into the waiting lions… See the shadow of the lioness behind the warthog in the photo. The warthog caught wind of the group of 8 lions (never saw the ninth) and trotted on a perpendicular course out of harms way.
On another hunt, the lioness began hunting the antelope (see them in the distance). Once again, the antelope caught wind of the lioness and took off before the she could get close enough to attempt a kill.
It was difficult to know who to cheer for… the hunter or the hunted.
Never a dull moment in the animal kingdom.
And remember, it’s all about the light.