Hyenas are believed to be lazy, incompetent hunters and cunning thieves. While the latter is true, hyenas are in fact highly capable hunters; despite lacking the stealthier hunting techniques of their Feliformis* (cat-like) counterparts.
Hyenas often forage alone, in fact more than they do as a group. This increases their chance of encountering food and of course should their hunt be successful, they don’t have to share.
Some Arathusa guests were recently fortunate to witness raw nature play out, when one hyena displayed typical hunting behaviour. One guest described this sighting as “a very revealing insight into the cold heartedness of this predator”.
We had stopped for our tea and coffee break during a morning game drive, when we got word of an injured impala sighting and its desperate efforts to distance itself from a roaming hyena. My guests and I tossed our beverages aside and rushed to the scene – the thrill of seeing a kill outweighing the need for drinks!
By the time we arrived the impala had already fallen, but there was still plenty of interesting behavioural observations and photographic opportunities to be had. At first, the hyena seemed unwilling to share either of these though, as he kept dragging his prize further and further away from the dam towards a Tamboti thicket.
We managed to follow the hyena closely, while keeping a good distance so as not to push him off. As exhaustion and hunger got the better of him, he soon started devouring the impala.
This was clearly not a sighting for the faint hearted or squeamish. The guests “oohed and aahed” as they witnessed the morbidly efficient side of nature. In between mouthfuls of impala meat the hyena gleefully pulled out the intestines and polished them off like spaghetti… This was followed by a good chew on the skull before cracking on with some ribs!
Mother nature never ceases to amaze!
*Photographs courtesy and © of the Neyton family
Until next time,
- The Styx pride maintain their reputation
- No place like (a hornbill’s) home, by ranger Jamie Sangster