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Nail-Biting Encounter When Two Irritable Blue Wildebeest Bulls Squared Off

Wild travellers Willie and Wilma Immelman were on their way from Mata-Mata to Twee Rivieren in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park when they decided to stop at the Kamqua picnic site for some refreshments.

But they got much more than they’d bargained for when two blue wildebeest bulls got embroiled in an epic struggle.“We became aware of the two blue wildebeest when we saw one bull chasing the other along the dunes surrounding the picnic spot. One of them even rammed his head into the bumper of a nearby vehicle as it was leaving the picnic area,” Willie recalls.

Soon after the couple spotted them, the two bulls went horn-to-horn in a battle to establish dominance. They rammed their heads against each other, often going down on their knees to try and overcome the other. “The clash of the horns was very loud.”

The confrontation lasted for about five to six minutes until one bull finally admitted defeat. After giving in, the defeated bull was chased off as the winner demonstrated his supremacy over the weaker animal.

Willie and his wife have been regular visitors to national parks across southern Africa since 2005. Although they have visited various parks in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, this is the first time they have witnessed such a nail-biting territorial battle between two blue wildebeest.

Wildebeest bulls are territorial and will mark their stomping ground by way of scent marking and middens. Neighbouring bulls will often interact on their boundaries with behaviour such as horn tossing, tail swishing and horn clashing.

In more serious fights, like the one Willie and Wilma witnessed, the contenders go down on their knees and wrestle with their horns as they try to unbalance their opponent. Territorial bulls are frequently alone and you may spot one with mud sticking to his horns and body.

A bull will horn mud as a way to show off to rivals – mud-packed horns look bigger and more impressive. You might also spot territorial males walking with their heads held higher than others in the herd.