21 March 2011 by Julienne du Toit

Animal Warfare

You’ve got to admire the way animals conduct warfare.

During the rutting season, you get all kinds of aggression breaking out. The antelope are mostly armed with deadly sharp horns yet they mostly refrain from using them. A bushbuck, for example, will attack a small shrub with his horns in front of another male, for example.

Instead of launching a direct violent attack, he’s basically saying: “Come any closer and this is what I’ll be doing to you.”

Or two males will slowly approach one another and turn broadside, showing off their muscle size and thickness of their necks and sharpness of horns, raising their dorsal manes or whatever else is impressive to a buck.

They may bob their heads up and down - a kind of symbolic horning.

Or they may just indulge in the mildest of threats - nodding and head-shaking. Sometimes they’ll just poke each other with their snouts, mouth closed.

Of course, sometimes it gets really serious. Blood is shed and serious wounds sustained. But it takes a long time to get to Defcon 5, with honourable exit strategies all along the road.

Category: Wildlife

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