Every angle of an animal’s life is specialised in the business of competition, forcing individuals to compete for access of a potential mate, resources, food and space – all necessities to live and reproduce successfully.
This extreme rivalry of limited sources has led to many differences in behaviour and evolutionary adaptations to develop a good battle against competition. The development of weapons, increased body size, performing rituals, the expansion of emphasised areas, conflict and co-operation are all products from competition, creating some of the most extraordinary battles in nature.
Here are 30 different examples of the animal battles and conflicts that storm across the animal kingdom.
Only a monitory of elephant seal males mate with females, and for those that do – success is short lived. Between December and March, large breeding groups of seals gather together on offshore islands. Males are much larger than females and fight violently to become ‘harem masters’, granting them exclusive access to 10 -12 females. Male’s striving for dominance will initially use visual and vocal displays to fend off any rivals, inflating their distinctive proboscises to emit incredibly loud roars. Competing males rust at each another, rear their necks, slap, butt and bite in fierce clashes. The male’s neck and shoulders have developed a thick, corrugated skin and a layer of protective fat to help minimize the damage during these competitive encounters.
Young male giraffes establish dominance among themselves with up to 30 minute long neck-wrestling contests, occasionally resulting in the male’s neck becoming broken. Mature bulls roam among groups looking for females ready to mate. If challenged by another male, they fight by kicking and head butting.
Many territories are defended by animals against intruders. Their territorial boundaries are often marked to announce the owner’s presence by visual displays, scent or audible signals to avoid potential confrontations between neighbours. If an intruder persists to enter the territory then territorial disputes often occur.
Males maximise their success simply by mating with as many females as possible; as a result, they compete with one another for partners. Evolution thus favours greater male strength, large body size and weapons such as horns, claws and teeth used for fighting.
Two Tule Elk battle for the possession of a group of females. Much larger than females, male elk have massive shoulders, thickened skulls and huge horns. Fights are frequently very violent, leading to serious injuries and sometimes death.
Whilst keeping species in captive environments it’s important to research and understand wild territories and conflicts against the population. Crowding species in a space too small, or feeding species whilst they are in the same enclosure can result in a brawl across individuals to either strive for dominance or space.
Foxes form small social groups consisting of male (known as a dog fox) several females (vixens) and their dependent cubs. Each group’s territory contains a den or earth where females give birth and rear their young. Fox home ranges in size from 10- 5,000 hectares depending on habitat quality. Territories are smaller and less stable in urban areas resulting in great conflict for territories across red foxes.
In few animal species, the usual pattern of sex difference or dimorphism is reversed, resulting in females being noticeably larger and more powerful than males and are therefore compete for males instead. This is often associated in situations were the males play important roles in feeding, rearing and protecting the young, making them a limited resource in which females will fight for to gain possession.
So there you have it, 30 examples of differing species that find themselves in conflicts. Without a intelligent or strong defence individuals can become replaced, pushed out of their group, lose their chance of copulation, resources or worse, die. Due to this severe pressure, a wide range of behaviours and evolutionary adaptations can be admired at the constant twisting turning demands of survival of the fittest.
Lets grant competition with a huge applause as without it admiring deer rutting in the mountains, the frantic chase between a cheetahs flexing body and a streamline gazelle, a midflight fighting display between kingfishers and two white rhinos charging for a female would be lost. Competition keeps species fit and equips them with defences essential to maintain life in the harsh wild world.