I don’t know if you have ever heard the loud honking call which resonates from the beautiful Egyptian goose. Myself, tracker Shadrack Mkhebla and guest Spencer Palmer certainly did. From a distance away we heard what seemed to be a panicked honking distress call, a call we’re very familiar with but as we came around the corner we saw something none of us had ever seen before.

The territorial male over this specific waterhole flies in aggressively to attack the intruding goose.

I had, on a few occasions, witnessed the very territorial behaviour of the monogamous Egyptian geese as they spread their wings while perched in a tree or on the ground and start flapping their wings aggressively while “honking” as other geese fly over-head to indicate their territory. This time it was not the same. As we came around the corner we saw the flapping of wings and something thrashing around in the water where the honking was coming from. Immediately we thought an Egyptian goose was trapped in the jaws of a crocodile, which would be very out of the ordinary, but on closer inspection, it was two male Egyptian geese tearing at each other with their beaks as they fought a fierce territorial battle.

While fighting they engage in neck biting and wing hitting to assert dominance over the opponent.

Half submerged, these two Egyptian geese had cleared a circular patch of duckweed around them, resembling the ropes of a boxing ring as they went neck-to-neck, literally trying to bite one another’s neck and wings while attempting to drown and gain dominance over one another.

A female watches from the sideline as the male geese try to submerge and tire one another out.

The noise coming from the water sounded like one was on the verge of being killed. This sound did not only draw our attention to this fierce battle but also attracted the pod of hippos who share the waterhole to come and investigate what was going on. The geese were so absorbed in the fight that they had not noticed the approaching hippo. One started to back down and show submission by trying to fly away but was too exhausted to get its body out of the water. The battle was not over yet… One of the males was still in hot pursuit of the other, even though it was showing signs of being beaten.

The intruding male tries to back down out of the fight but just too exhausted to take off.

Moments later, as if the fight wasn’t interesting enough, one of the hippos watching from a few meters away came launching out of the water like a submarine out of the ocean or like a boxing referee trying to break up the fight.

So absorbed in the fight, the birds didn’t notice that an aggressive hippo was hot on their tails, unappreciative of the commotion happening in the waterhole.

A second hippo then decided to join in the antics and they both chased the exhausted Egyptian goose across the waterhole until it reached safety on land.

Once all the action had settled down along with our excitement levels, we were all discussing over a cup of coffee why the geese would be fighting so ferociously. A few different theories were passed around and then as if it were staged, the reason was made very clear. From the corner of the waterhole, we saw a female emerge from the bank with a gaggle of goslings following her very closely.

A female Egyptian goose paddling across the waterhole with all her goslings following very closely after the intruding male has been chased away.

Egyptian geese are monogamous, which means they only have one partner for life. This may well have been the reason they were fighting – just like in humans – the father figure would likely want to fight off an intruder and protect his home and family. Watch the short video below where you can see a portion of the ferocious fight in action.

About the Author

Guy Brunskill

Ranger

Guy grew up in the city of Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal. From a very young age he visited the bush each holiday. It was during these early years that his passion and interest was ignited for this incredible environment. After school he acquired a ...

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6 Comments

on A Fierce Territorial Battle

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Marinda Drake

Amazing sighting. I have noticed before that hippos seem to come to the rescue of other animals in distress. Love Egyptian geese, they are always busy doing something. Interesting to watch them.

Wendy Hawkins

Guy that was amazing! I love how the hippos came in to investigate the goings on 🙂 Yes it is rather scary how they go at each other & this time both came off better than some I’m sure. Thank you

Leonie De Young

Interesting blog Guy. Can imagine you all sitting in the vehicle holding your breath and awaiting the outcome of this tussle. Good that the hippos helped out and the geese will live to fight another battle someday. Thank you.

Darlene Knott

Wow, how exciting! We have never seen the Egyptian geese do that! Thanks for sharing!

Callum Evans

Yikes! The ones in Cape Town are not that vicious!

Jill Larone

Wow, what a great sighting!! You never know what you’ll find around every corner at Londolozi!

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