Locking horns... at 13,000 feet: Mountain goats dice with death as they clash in Italian Alps

By Emma Reynolds

High and mighty: Two young mountain goats lock horns in a terrifying play-fight at 13,000ft, in preparation for the 'real' battles over females in December

This is the death-defying moment in which two mountain goats lock horns on a tiny plinth of rock in the Italian Alps - 13,000 feet up.

The risk-taking pair began play-fighting halfway up a mountain in Montasio and soon found themselves battling at this perilous spot as another goat looked on.

Brave photographer Marius Sabo captured the remarkable moment as he tracked the animals up the treacherous mountainside.

In the ring: The awe-inspiring animals clash high above the clouds after their encounter began halfway up Montasio in the Italian Alps

One wrong move could have led to the reckless Capra ibex goats plunging thousands of feet to their deaths.

Mr Sabo said: 'I have taken pictures of mountain goats since 2004 - but this was the first time I had ever seen something like this.

'They were living life on the edge. But they were young goats, maybe around three years old, practising their fighting skills. The real fighting begins in December when they will battle over females.

'The correlation with a boxing ring is unbelievable. At one point there was the two fighters in the ring and then the judge too. It was like a world title fight.'

The fighters had earlier tussled as they climbed up the steep rock, before reaching their final battleground in the clouds.

Vantage point: The majestic Capra ibex gazes out from the perilous peak

Stand-off: The two reckless kids attempted to intimidate each other on the steep slopes as amateur photographer Marius Sabo followed them

Mr Sabo, 38, followed the threesome for more than an hour, gasping for breath in the thinning oxygen as he took pictures on his Canon 40D.

The graphic designer, who was born in Romania and now lives in Austria, began taking photos as a hobby in 2003.

He added: 'I was amazed and thanked God for this chance to picture something so powerful in such a beautiful setting.

'They showed such graciousness and dexterity to climb up there and not fall. It is almost like they had God on their side making sure they stayed safe.'

Eventually the proud goats moved their confrontation to safer ground - and the sure-footed creatures will live to fight another day.



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