The word Connochaetes comes from an ancient Greek word that loosely describes the flowing mane or beard of a wildebeest. Wildebeest play a vital role in the ecosystem as they form the bulk of the largest terrestrial mammal migration and the same group of animals that stampeded through a gorge and killed Mufasa in the Lion King.
I never paid much attention to wildebeest when I was younger. My favorite part of the animals was their odd assembly, almost as if leftover parts from every animal in the world had been used to create them. The front half of a wildebeest is magnificent, showcasing a barrel-chest and the most luscious mane with horns similar to those of a buffalo. The rear, however, consists of a sloping back and poorly developed hind quarters that do not match the rest of the body. There is a reason for this; if you want to travel great distances at a pace faster than a walk, this body type is just what is needed. It exhibits a rocking-horse motion when it enters a canter and does so without exerting much energy.
Okay, enough about their anatomy; this is not what the tale is about. Late last year, while on safari at Djuma in the Northern Sabi Sand, my guests and I came across an unusual scene. We had just arrived back at camp after the morning safari, I honestly cannot remember if this was before or after breakfast, but I had heard a strange sound. I went outside to investigate. I was so surprised to see it was two wildebeest bulls fighting. I stood there for a minute in absolute awe as I had never seen a wildebeest battle. “Oh, that’s how they do it.” I murmured to myself, before rushing back inside to encourage everyone to grab their cameras. I suggested we leave the lodge and walk a short distance to a termite mound, where we would have a good view of the bulls bashing heads.We all sat in complete silence, watching these two fine specimens compete for the open plains- known as Quarantine. This area is prime property, lots of open space, good soils which produce palatable grazing, plenty of trees and bushes to shelter females and calves from the harsh elements, and a watering hole just a stone throw away. To a wildebeest, this is the equivalent of a house in Camps Bay, Cape Town- a must-have! In South Africa, the wildebeest no long migrate as they still do in East Africa, which means the bulls set up permanent territories, which might explain why you have seen just one wildebeest standing on its own. If you do not have all the above mentioned necessities, then there is no reason for the herds of females to pass through that area.
The two bulls pushed, shoved, and clashed their horns together for the rightful ownership of the open plain. In the end, there can only be one winner! In order not to spoil anything more about the story, you should watch the video I made of the testosterone fueled battle!
<< CLICK THE LINK BELOW >>