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The Dust Up
13 x 18

Rival male gemsbok (Oryx gazella) clash in an aggressive dominant display to establish hierarchy. Their long horns lock, and a push/pull backwards and sideways ensues. In these encounters "stabbing" motions with the horns are uncommon and reserved for only the most serious of attacks. 

Gemsbok occur in Southwest Africa and form herds of 10 to 40 animals with one dominant male leading the group. These animals once suffered declining populations due to encroaching human activity but reintroduction efforts over the last 10 -20 years have allowed numbers to increase. Economically valuable to the region for trophy hunting, this species now resides primarily on privately owned land or reserves. It's ability to inhabit semi-arid regions even during severe drought without migrating is another factor enabling its survival.

My thanks to Nigel Dennis for allowing me to use his photo as reference for this piece. Initially I struggled with the odd angle and pose of these two individuals, but in going over other photos of gemsbok fighting I realized there really is no "beautiful" way to compose them. The very act of battle makes them appear awkward and ungainly. I hoped that by enhancing the dust and rock spray it would provide additional motion and drama.