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“Bale Dance” Of The Clumsy Giraffe Clamps Its Legs Around The Opponent’S Neck When Making Scraps

They live in the desert, surviving off the scantest of resources – and are famously bad-tempered.

Yet despite their posturing, giraffes rarely come to blows in the wild, and when they do it’s hardly ever as brutal as this.

But these incredible pictures captured for the BBC’s new Africa series show two male desert giraffes preparing to fight in the Hoanib sand river in Namibia.

First they size each other up, their crossed necks creating a dramatic silhouette against the landscape.

But soon they are thrashing at each other in the dust as they do vicious battle for supremacy. In footage captured for Sir David Attenborough’s latest landmark wildlife series, Africa, the giraffes are seen attacking each other.

The practice is known as ‘necking’ and is a ritual among male bull giraffes. They start by ‘feeling each other out’ to see how they match up.

These light bouts may only consist of rubbing necks and bumping each other. However, if the bulls do decide to really fight, they will spread their front legs to get a more stable stance.

Then they swing their heads in wide arches to try to hit one another with the hard bony ossicles – bumps – on the tops of their heads.

Julian Fennessy, a biologist at the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Director of the Namibia Nature Foundation, said: ‘Their necks are extremely powerful weapons.

‘It is usually held at a 45 degree angle, but if you bend it and swing it back, it is like an elastic band and the forces created are very large.

‘The whacks produced when they make contact can probably be heard up to a kilometre away. Giraffes practice for these fights for most of their lives, but normally they back off before a fight occurs.

‘The tactics in this fight are amazing – it shows how much practice has led up to it.’

Martyn Colbeck, who filmed the fight, spent a month following giraffes around before he witnessed a fight.

He added: ‘The giraffe that challenged the main bull came out of nowhere. Then it was over so quickly. We just sat around afterwards stunned before replaying the footage over and over to look at the tactics they used.

‘They were obviously very experienced fighters and had their own unique strategy.

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