Territorial Conflicts in Animals and Humans


Territory refers to a geographically defined area, which is regarded to be owned by an individual (s), animal, or a state and it can also be defined by other factors, such as culture and language. Thus, territory promotes peace through assurance as it clearly defines and demarcates the workings of power. However, when someone wants to infringe on the territorial rights of another, a conflict usually follows.

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Some animals live in territories that they consistently defend against intrusions from other animals or human beings. One such animal is the whale. Because of their massive size, other creatures seldom dare to infringe on their territorial rights. However, man is their worst adversary as they constantly enter into confrontations with them. Thus, when confronted, territorial animals usually use various defense mechanisms against the intrusions.

When threatened, the whales often try to trick the invader that they are larger than their actual size by beating their tails in the ocean to form a whitewater wake that can be more than forty feet across. The whales also employ their heads, tails, and fins to protect themselves and their territories from outside interference. By the use of their huge tails, they can cause movements in a ship such that it sinks ultimately when water gets inside it.

A more successful defense mechanism that the sea creatures use is their huge bodies, which they use to destroy the vessel of the invaders. In the article from the book “In the Heart of the Sea,” “the whale struck the ship just beneath the anchor with a tremendous cracking and splintering of oak …and still the force of the collision caused the whalemen’s heads to jounce on their muscled necks as the ship lurched to a halt on the slablike forehead of the whale.”(Philbrick, 2001).

Culture is another aspect that defines territory. In most cases, people tend to guard their shared set of attitudes, values, objectives, as well as practices from interference from external forces. And, the attempt to disregard this often leads to a cultural clash. In the short story, “Everyone Talked Loudly in Chinatown,” it was rather difficult for the author to relate comfortably with the Chinese as she had spent most of her life in Canada.

Thus, she often found herself hanging around foreigners. This took place because she was trying to protect the beliefs, behaviors, and the characteristic way of life of the western world from intrusion from the Chinese culture. More so, she was often upset by how the people “talked loudly and waved their arms” and preferred to spent time in a neighbor’s house where “everything was neat and orderly.” (Jew, n.d., 5).

At one time, the mother screamed at her, “How can you be so fearless? Going out with a white boy!” (Jew, n.d., 6). As she could not understand this she viewed this to be an “uncivilized” way of life. Because of the urge to preserve the western way of life, the author did not find it interesting to accomplish such simple tasks as feeding her grandmother.

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Similar to “In the Heart of the Sea,” the author of this article wanted to protect her territory from outside interference of other cultures. However, the whale in the first story was obliged to protect its physical territories while the author of the second story is obliged to protect the area of her cultural interests. Another similarity between the two stories is found in the sense that both the parties involved held strongly to their different territorial rights and they were ready to repulse any outside interference.

These two stories relate very well with my personal experience in an incidence in which I was forced to fight against infringement of our territorial rights. At one time, our family was living outside town and we had a big compound at our place of residence. Then, one day, unexpectedly, our neighbor decided to extend his compound into ours. All of us were perplexed at his action and no one dared to approach him on the issue, as he was one of the ‘influential’ men around.

However, one day I woke up in my right mind and decided to confront him for his uncaring action. As a result, he acknowledged his mistake and promised me that he would rectify the mistake. Thus, similar to the two stories, I had the belief that our family had the claim for space in our compound and I responded accordingly as I felt that our neighbor was invading our rightful territory. In addition to the need to preserve our rightful space, I was also inspired by the urge to uphold principles.


In conclusion, as illustrated above, the territory is a concept that is common in this world and an animal or a human may want to fight to defend it if another party wants to claim it from them. Thus, the tragic results of territorial conflicts can be avoided by engaging in rational discussions to find the way out. And, for the case of territorial animals, proper care should be taken when infringing on their territory.

Reference List

Jew, Anne. (N.d.). Everyone Talked Loudly in Chinatown. Web.

Philbrick, N. (2001). In the heart of the sea: the tragedy of the whaleship Essex. New York: Penguin.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Territorial Conflicts in Animals and Humans'. 3 April.

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