This is the moment two male hares fiercely fight over a female – in a tradition that marks the start of spring.
The two brown hares stand on their hind legs as they take each other on to win supremacy and mating rights.
Their sparring was spotted by photographer Ingo Gerlach, 65, who stopped to watch the boxing battle in Burgenland, Austria.
He said: “This was a pure purpose alliance for the propagation of the species.
“These are normal ranking battles in which the stronger and faster hare will make the rabbit lady happy.
“The stronger one won and the weaker one fled. The stronger hare then got to mate with her.
“The fight marked the start of spring which is also the start of the mating season.”
The boxing contests that mark hares’ spring mating frenzy is the source of the expression ‘mad as a March hare’.
The contests were long believed to be between two male hares fighting for dominance to mate with a female.
But in fact the disputes are usually a reluctant female that is not yet ready to mate repelling the unwanted advances of an overexcited male.
Ingo, from Betzdorf, Germany, added: “The female stood and watched on as the two males fought.
“They seemed much more excited about it than her.”
On Sunday morning, the clocks went forward, marking the start of British Summer Time and bringing more daylight in the evenings.
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