Game sightings are all about luck and timing, so Makweti Manager and Field Guide Gary Parker was left awe-struck recently after witnessing a battle of two magnificent Kudus.
It has taken Gary 14 years working in the bush to be able to photograph this natural phenomenon, and it did not disappoint.
Luckily for those of us who were not present on the game vehicle that afternoon, Gary’s spectacular photographs of the two males locking horns illustrate the workings of Mother Nature to perfection.
“My guests and I had just left the lodge en route to high tea in the bush when we spotted a Kudu bull whose behaviour was out of the ordinary. We then saw another Kudu bull on approach. It was apparent that the first bull was posturing for battle,” Gary said.
Within no time at all, the bulls were engaged in a full-out sparring war, as the guests watched in fascination. “You could see the dust flying as these fleet-footed animals went for each other, and hear the clacking of their horns as they clashed. It was clear these two would fight to the death if that was what was required.”
“As they paused for a second or two, we noticed that one of the bulls had the end of his horn broken off in the battle.” If the horns of the antelope are broken, they do not regrow.
The battle commenced for another minute or two before the bull with the broken horn backed off. “There was a clear winner but they followed each other out of our line of sight to possibly finish this off.” Fights between males are rare, and can last for up to 15 minutes.
For antelope species, which usually mate between May and August, fighting is a common way of determining dominance. The reproductive competition between male antelope can be intense and it is vital that young males spar from an early age to develop the skills they will need later in life.
Kudu bulls are known to exhibit this sparring behaviour by locking their horns and pushing one another. On occasion the sparring can result in their horns becoming locked together, resulting in the death of both animals.
“We came away, awe-inspired and with our own adrenalin pumping. Definitely a sighting that won’t be forgotten.”