How do animals wage war?
The beasts that do battle
In nature, conflict is inevitable. In the fight for survival animals often have to fight with one another. Whether it’s a case of defending territory, battling for breeding rights or killing prey, there are millions of miniature wars raging across the natural world at any given time.
Some creatures are more predisposed to life on the battlefield than others. Indeed, the animals that are most revered by humans – intelligent apes, wily wolves, proud lions and endearing dolphins – are among the most impressive examples when it comes to collaborative hunting. It’s probably no coincidence that we hold these species in such high regard: as the most intelligent species on Earth, it’s natural for humans to relate to creatures that display similarly smart survival strategies and social skills.
Yet mammals are by no means the only examples of teamwork in nature’s ongoing conflicts. Alliances can be observed in almost every order of the animal kingdom. Insects such as ants and termites conduct raids on the nests of their enemies, razing forests for resources as they march dutifully in the name of their queens. Birds scout the skies and perform ruthless aerial attacks on their land-borne prey, with species such as Harris’ hawks kookaburras collaborating to ensure success. Even fish are at war with one another, forming unlikely partnerships to secure meals. These animals are proof of evolution’s ability to mimic the human arms race.
“As the most intelligent species on Earth, it’s natural for humans to relate to creatures that display similar strategies”