Journal of Ethology

, 28:201 | Cite as

A rare fight in female plains zebra

  • Ilya R. FischhoffEmail author
  • Siva R. Sundaresan
  • Heather M. Larkin
  • Marie-Jeanne Sellier
  • Justine E. Cordingley
  • Daniel I. Rubenstein
Short Communication


We describe a fight between two female plains zebra (Equus burchelli). Plains zebra are ungulates with stable social groups known as harems. Female aggression rarely escalates to the level we observed. The fight immediately followed the birth of a foal to one of the females. The initiating female repeatedly kicked and bit the mother, who reacted aggressively and by guarding her foal. We present hypotheses on the causes underlying this rare event.


Female–female aggression Infanticide Ungulates Agonistic behavior Parturition Equidae Abnormal behavior Equus burchelli 



We thank the Ministry of Education, Government of Kenya for permission to work in Kenya. We are grateful to Ol Pejeta Conservancy and its staff for allowing us to work there and providing field support. For hosting and supporting us during this work, we thank Princeton University, McMaster University, Mpala Research Center, Denver Zoological Foundation, and Ol Pejeta Conservancy. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the US National Science Foundation (IIS-0705822, CNS-0205214, IBN-9874523), Pew Charitable Trusts, and Teresa Heinz Environmental Scholars program.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (CSV 1 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (AVI 7653 kb)


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilya R. Fischhoff
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Siva R. Sundaresan
    • 2
    • 3
  • Heather M. Larkin
    • 2
  • Marie-Jeanne Sellier
    • 2
    • 4
  • Justine E. Cordingley
    • 2
    • 5
  • Daniel I. Rubenstein
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Conservation BiologyDenver Zoological FoundationDenverUSA
  4. 4.French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)VersaillesFrance
  5. 5.Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African OrnithologyUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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