It turns out zebras are not the peaceful pyjama horses you thought they were …

Recently uploaded to the Latest Sightings YouTube channel, the video was filmed in Namibia's Etosha National Park. Much to the surprise and horror of the group of tourists watching from the sidelines, the zebra stallion can be seen repeatedly attacking a young foal. "[At] first it was a bit shocking," says Daniel Tjärnén, who filmed the clip back in 2015. "But then I thought 'it's the way of nature'."

And Tjärnén is probably right. From rodents to primates, infanticide has been recorded in a wide range of species, and while it may seem like a counterproductive survival strategy, it does serve a purpose. 

Plains zebras have to navigate complex social systems. Dominant males usually reign over a harem of as many as six females, to which they have sole breeding access. Dominant stallions will readily fight off challenges from competing bachelors, and fierce clashes involving much biting and kicking often break out.

If a challenging bachelor comes out of a scuffle on top, the loser will relinquish his harem to join a bachelor herd, along with other ousted males and those that have yet to claim a bevy of females for themselves.

This is where things can take a dark turn. If the females in the harem have recently given birth, the new dominant male may kill their foals to eliminate any traces of his predecessor, and to bring the females into oestrus in order to further his own genetic legacy. There is even some evidence of dominant males aggressively mating with pregnant females in order to force them to miscarry.

In this case, it's unclear whether the young foal made it out alive. "The zebras disappeared further away behind the trees after a long chase," recalls Tjärnén.