Image Credits:  depinamug

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.


Image Credits: Daniel Budiman

battles in nature

Image Credits: Choofly

Image Credits: KEENPRESS Photography

Image Credits: Ken King // Dixie Native

Image Credits: Jump4joy

Image Credits: fPat Murray

Image Credits: Mike Baird

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.

Image Credits: Ryan-J

Image Credits: Skarphéðinn Þráinsson // 

Image Credits: Thy Bun

Image Credits: Massimo Cocco

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.

Image Credits: Kim Ledin

Image Credits: Pete Maddox

Image Credits: Xevirodeja

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.

Image Credits: Gunter Leitenbauer


Image Credits: Roberto Bianconi

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.

Image Credits: Jetuma

Image Credits: ACreepingMalaise

Image Credit: Dan Belton

Image Credits: Rick Wilks

Image Credits: Edgar Thissen

Image Credits: Steve Wilson

Image Credits: Pat Ulrich

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.

Image Credits: Ucumari

Image Credits: Craig Lyons

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.

Image Credits: Muineach

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.

Image Credits: Feliciano Guimarães

Image Credits: CamTrails

Image Credits: Jerome Pierson


Image Credits: Don Bullens

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.


<!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–>

  • Michael L. Baird

    What a treasure of images and commentary. The new generation of Internet-enabled and leveraged students will learn like never before with such resources. Thanks for using my Elephant Seals in battle.

  • http://non risovic

    O My ! What a beautiful and powerful photos !! Lovely collection Emma!-:))

  • Anjan Chatterjee


  • daniel ab

    great and lovely article, Emma…

  • Roberto

    Very nice work Emma!

    Thanks for using my photo.

    greetings from italy!


  • Jerome

    Thanks for the link. Interesting article and very beautiful pictures. It was a good idea of you to search on Flickr the pictures which suit your work. I will add some of the photographers as contact.



  •!/mrcraiglyons Craig lyons

    Wonderful article, some very inspiring photograph choices. Nature at its best.

  • Rick Wilks

    Fab images and excellent write up. Thankyou so much for including my image.

  • Feliciano Guimarães AKA JSome1

    Fantastic work. Beautifull and teachfull.

  • John

    Thank you for using the fox image, a very interesting article, and what a superb collection of amazing images, some really beautiful work, well done.

  • Fpat

    The article is really great! Thanks for featuring my picture.
    Some of those other photos are absolutely stunning! Good eye curating them.

  • Skarpi

    Interesting article and photos to go with it

  • David

    Some great photos. Really enjoyed looking at them.

  • Pingback: If a tiger fought a lion, which animal would win? – Anomie's Child