Two stallions rear in a timeless battle for supremacy. Spring has arrived on the blossoming plains. Where the horses live in wild seclusion.
It’s an annual ritual among the herd. In which its stallions fight to secure mates from the pick of the mares.
The stallions each weighing almost half a ton. They stand on their hind legs like boxers preparing to throw their first ‘punches’. This is fierce blows of their powerful hooves.
The battles are charged with testosterone. But in the end one stallion will win his conjugal rights. While the vanquished must slink away and lick his wounds.
The victor will mate with ‘a harem’ of eight or nine mares. A manageable number . Which ensures he can control them. While reserving the rest of his energy for chasing the other stallions away.
Photographer Vedran Vidakm took these pictures. He has spent many days observing these magnificent creatures.
‘Since they live on their own without human interference. They truly accord with Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest,’ he says.
‘Each stallion has to show off. He has to prove he is the dominant male and that his strength and perseverance are incomparable with any other.’
The herd of 200 horses has recently come down from caverns some 4,000ft up in the mountains. Where they spend their winters to preserve their strength.
For it can be a bitter climate there, with the Bosnian landscape battered by ferocious storms and blanketed in snow from October to May. Yet still the horses have survived, even flourished.
It’s believed the herd was formed back in the Seventies, when villagers who had been working in Western Europe returned to the region with tractors and agricultural machinery.
At first, there were only a couple of dozen animals roaming together, but over the years the herd’s population has grown.
Unfortunately, she adds, not all the locals like the wild horses. Many villagers complain that they ruin their crops — which may explain some reports of horses being killed for dog meat.
Last year, however, a group of local nature lovers launched a petition to protect the herd, and officials in the nearby town of Livno have earmarked funds to conserve the animals.
They argue that the horses have become a tourist attraction, and that increasing numbers of people come to watch and photograph them every year.
According to Vedran Vidak, spring is the best time to see them, ‘when they begin to release the energy they have been storing over winter’.
It is also the time when you might just be privy to one of nature’s most thrilling displays: the battle of the stallions.
Source: Daily Mail