When Rhinos Collide: Two Bulls Fighting for Dominance

A white rhino chases another in Madikwe, South Africa

Thunk..Thunk.. Thunk …Thunk …

Everything is quiet except for the sound of large, heavy feet hitting the dirt.

I sit and marvel at the spectacle in front of me. Two flesh and blood tanks engaged in a battle of will and muscle.

Against all reason the rhinos move gracefully. Their bodies oddly light as if they had tiny springs attached to the soles of their feet. Only the thick red puffs of Madikwe soil rising into the air belie their immense weight.

Two rhinos square off near Molori Safari Lodge in Madikwe, South AFrica

What do they fight for?

Territory is everything, so they fight. The king chases the intruder in and out of the bushes. Round and round they go until the offender turns and they are face to to face, eyes bulging, nostrils flaring, and for a moment everything is still.

Their horns touch. At first it’s soft like a kiss. A dueler’s handshake perhaps? And short-lived. Surging forward their faces connect with a sickening smack. We watch, awestruck, as the adversaries dig in with their back legs and thrust into the other. I imagine they are Sumo wrestlers, each determined to plow the other into submission.

Two rhinos fight near Molori Safari Lodge in Madikwe, South AFrica

The bloodied face of a white rhino in Madikwe, South Africa

Suddenly it’s over. The king is victorious.

An imperceptible truce has been negotiated.

Bloodied, they begin to graze.

Seen while on safari as an invited guest at Molori Safari Lodge. 

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The spectacle of two rhinos battling for dominance in South Africa.



Categories: Africa, Madikwe, South Africa

38 replies »

  1. Amazing. Rhinos are one of my favorite kinds of animals. Crazy how reptiles evolved a body plan like that (ceratopsians) and then millions of years later mammals evolved the same traits

  2. The article is so well penned and to add a galour to it was the photography that I actually felt i was in Africa and I was seeing the mesmerising act right in front of my eyes..Thank you for the detailing ☺

  3. You’re photos are spectacular, as is your description of the stand-off. We got the privilege to witness quite a few rhino in Africa over the years – they are amazingly agile, despite their bulk. Thank you for sharing your encounter! Sad to think they are being poached so horribly.

    • I really appreciate your kind words. Thank you.

      It’s so true about rhinos. When I first saw them, I assumed their massiveness would sound more like Godzilla taking a step than the light, floating steps that are the reality. It’s kind of crazy.

      • We once saw two that came crashing through the bush onto the road and they were both sniffing like bloodhounds, following some invisible trail that had them both scrambling and shoving each other out of the way. Must have been one hottie of a rhino that had them so worked up 🙂

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