It’s the equivalent of a bar brawl at your neighborhood watering hole.

Except it’s a watering hole in Namibia.

What started as a normal day on the job for safari guide and photographer Neal Cooper turned dramatic when two zebras started kicking (and biting!) the crap out of each other. Scroll down for the action-packed story behind this wild shot!

ISO: 640
Aperture: 6.3
Shutter: 1/8000
Exp. Comp.: -1.3
Program: Aperture Priority

“This was shot in the Etosha National Park in Namibia last July 2013, around 9:40 a.m. I run photographic safaris with CNP Safaris in a number of Southern African destinations—Etosha was one of these locations. We carefully choose the areas where we shoot, so this image was taken close to a waterhole, where hundreds of animals come to drink on a daily basis. That day, we positioned our vehicles in such a way that we have the best light on approaching herds of animals. As the herds of zebra approached, there was an issue of dominance between the stallions. So we watched and waited carefully for tell-tale signs of possible fights. These fights are dramatic, with the zebras ending up on their knees as they bite each other’s legs!”

“The gear I used was a Nikon D4 together with a Nikon 600mm f/4.0. As the zebras approached each other, I would switch between my 600mm and a 400 f2.8 to get as much of the animals in the frame as possible. By the time the tussle between the zebras broke out, I shot the sequence.”

“I wasn’t aware at first of the impact of these images. It was only back at the lodge, when we were downloading and editing our work that I saw these series of images. All my images were shot in RAW, and I use Nikon Capture NX2 exclusively for my editing—I find it very direct and fast. I’m fortunate that the images from the Nikon cameras were really good, so extensive post-processing wasn’t required. Between safaris, I don’t have a lot of time to editing, so I have to use a quality editing program like Nikon Capture NX2 to get the job done quickly and professionally.”

Interested in learning more about Neal Cooper and his work? Read on for our exclusive Q&A with this South Africa-based pro wildlife photographer!

How did you get started with wildlife photography?
I was always interested in nature. While working in a corporate environment, I spent all the free time I had in national parks around South Africa. When the opportunity came to join a photographic safari company — CNP Safaris with specialist photographic boats and vehicles — I took the plunge and joined the company to live out my dream.

As a wildlife photographer, how often do you travel a year and how long do you spend it out in the wild?
I’m fortunate to spend about 120 days a year with my clients in the most fantastic places in the Southern African bush. The safaris typically run from five to ten days. But as the safaris can run back-to-back, I could be in the bush for up to four weeks at a time.

What are your favorite subjects to shoot?
I have a real fondness for photographing birds, especially birds in flight. I see this as the ultimate challenge for any photographer.

What can we find in your camera bag?
The primary cameras and lenses I take to a safari are: Nikon D4, D800, Nikon 600mm f/4.0, Nikon 400mm f/2.8, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, 1.4X, 1.7x and 2.0x extender.

Where is the best location in the world to take the best wildlife photos?
There are so many wonderful areas on this small blue planet, so I can only speak for Southern Africa where we run our safaris. I would say, the Chobe River in Botswana, Masai Mara in Kenya, and Etosha National Park in Namibia. These are great venues, but you always need some local photographic knowledge and expertise to get the most out of any area in the world.

Follow Neal Cooper to get a glimpse of his wildlife photography.
To go on a photographic safari with Neal, check out CNP Safaris.

Want to see more of zebras going head to head against each other?
Browse more zebra fights in action!