They live in the desert, surviving off the scantest of resources – and are famously bad-tempered.
Yet despite their posturing, giraffes rarely come to blows in the wild, and when they do it’s hardly ever as brutal as this.
But these incredible pictures captured for the BBC’s new Africa series show two male desert giraffes preparing to fight in the Hoanib sand river in Namibia.
First they size each other up, their crossed necks creating a dramatic silhouette against the landscape.
But soon they are thrashing at each other in the dust as they do vicious battle for supremacy. In footage captured for Sir David Attenborough’s latest landmark wildlife series, Africa, the giraffes are seen attacking each other.
The practice is known as ‘necking’ and is a ritual among male bull giraffes. They start by ‘feeling each other out’ to see how they match up.
These light bouts may only consist of rubbing necks and bumping each other. However, if the bulls do decide to really fight, they will spread their front legs to get a more stable stance.