Zebra performs dangerous kick during fight with opponent
It was just after sunrise when we left our camp to go on a safari in the Kruger National Park. The first hour of the day is known by many as the ‘golden hour’, where the soft golden light creates perfect conditions for photographing and filming wildlife. It was during this time that I managed to film two male zebras, locked in combat. The biting and kicking added to the drama while the golden light and dust made for a spectacular setting overall.
The first place we went to check after departure was a nearby watering hole. Many species of wildlife make use of the early hours of the morning to get their daily fill of water before the relentless heat takes over the rest of the day. On our arrival there were some buffalo near the water and a small herd of zebra more to the back of the buffalo. It was during the peak of the dry season and the landscape was barren and very dusty. We decided to spent some time at this watering hole, watching the animals coming to the water. While scanning the vast and open landscape, I suddenly noticed clouds of dust appearing from behind the nearby buffalo. I noticed that there were some erratic movements coming from the small herd of zebra standing in the distance.
Two zebras in particular were rising up and down while bumping against each other. I quickly realized that it was two males starting a fight with each other. These fights usually do not last long as young males like to practice their fighting skills in short bursts of play. Fights only get serious when an interloper attempts to abduct a father’s daughter. It was soon clear that this was no play fight and the fight continued. I started filming and the video shows a part of the intense battle in the golden light filled with dust. Zebra fights consist mainly of biting and wrestling, rarely flailing with the fore feet and only occasional kicking with the back feet, the most dangerous form of combat.
The two male zebras started with rearing, jostling and neck-wrestling. The fight became more serious when they dropped to the ground, then circling on their knees. This happens when an opponent seeks a grip to bite on the opponents fore or hindleg. The two zebras then quickly jumped back onto their feet and with lightning speed, the one male zebra lashed out with his back feet, hitting his opponent right under the very tip of his jaw. A kick like that hitting the head of an opponent can be fatal. The zebra that was on the receiving end of the kick was very lucky but it looked like the lightning-fast powerful kick was hurting enough for him to give up, shaking his head while looking a little disorientated. The losing zebra slowly disappeared after the incident. I was grateful for waking up early and having the opportunity to see such an unexpected event during the golden hour of the morning in the African bush.