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Males and females of most species will fight viciously in self-defense. And females can be even more aggressive than males when defending their young. In this episode, we'll explore the Race of Life from the point of view of food, territory, social status, and mates. Though some fights occur between two different species, most battles are fought between members of the same species. Though the wildlife warriors in these battles usually are not trying to kill each other, the fighting can result in death. Why would members of the same species fight with such ferocity? Food is one reason. Animals that store and horde food for survival will aggressively protect their pantries. Animals are also willing to fight to protect their food indirectly. For example, predators will defend a territory that provides them with enough prey, or food, to survive. This territorial aggression serves to space out members of a species across their range in a way that maintains sufficient food within each territory. But it also may limit population size. For example, if a pack of wolves cannot find, defend, or take over a suitable territory, they may starve to death. Though food, territory, social status, and mates may be won and kept by fighting, aggression takes its toll. Animal combatants face exhaustion, injuries, time away from resting and eating, and the ultimate cost of battle: death. Thus, just like human beings, it’s often in an animal’s interest to win a war before it ever begins - or to avoid confrontation altogether.
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