By Shannon Lane @Shannonroselane
Scroll down for the full story
The dominant males occupy the area closest to the waterhole, controlling access to females and preventing the other males from approaching. Their power is frequently challenged, resulting in a dramatic clash of horns, and even injury.
Wildlife photographer Andrew Forsyth visited the Etosha National Park, Namibia and was surprised by the power in the slim springbok.
He said: “I staked out the waterhole for hours at a time and would watch the possession of the territory change hands several times during that period.
“The amount of force they use is surprising, and there is nothing held back in their attempts to maintain dominance. They seem to be built to withstand big impacts as they clash and often hit the ground very hard as they fight.
“Fighting is exhausting and each male could only hold the territory for a limited period of time until a fresher and stronger male won it from them.”
In the flat open plains of the Etosha pan, the springbok cannot be approached by predators due to the high visibility.
This enables them to focus entirely on the territorial battle within the group. Wielding horns of up 50cm, it’s no wonder that sometimes injury ensues.
Andrew said: “Injuries seem to be fairly common. One springbok had his face torn open by a horn just below the eye, but he carried on to hold the territory.
“Another got his horns locked in a bad position, his opponent trying to break his neck by twisting and lifting him off the ground. Fortunately he didn’t succeed, but it was a heart-stopping few moments. Even after this he went on to win the fight and chased off his rival.”
Despite this brutal force and determination their reign is always short lived, with the dominance completely refreshing the following day.
The photographer said: “There seems to be a 'rolling victor,’ with the prime territory changing hands several times during the day.
"The strongest can hold it for several hours, winning multiple fights before being chased off by a fresher opponent. The next day they start the whole process off again.”