Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Safari Part V: Happy Hyena

I never knew hyenas were so interesting.  On our four game drives in the Mara we saw lots of hyenas.  They look like cute little dogs.  I never heard them "laughing" though.  Wednesday evening, some young people invited us to a lecture about hyenas at the hotel.  If we hadn't seen so many, I wouldn't have been interested.  Because we saw so many, I was definitely interested.  Plus, I could see that no one was there and they had set up lots of chairs and I wanted to support.  (That's the mother in me).  They were university students from Michigan State University.  Researchers from MSU have been studying hyenas in the Mara since 1998.  It was a fascinating lecture.

We learned that hyenas are not members of the dog or the cat families but they are a species all on their own.  But they are more related to cats than to dogs.  They hunt in groups and can bring down large prey such as wildebeest.  Even a large clan of hyena can drive a pride of lion from a kill.  They can eat a zebra in less than 30 minutes!  A hyena has very strong jaws (probably the strongest in the animal kingdom) and can even chew through a giraffe's leg.  They live in groups and females are dominant.  They have a very strict social structure.  You can learn more about their Masai Mara Hyena Project at <www.msuhyenas.blogspot.com>.

The university students told us we were lucky to see a hyena family.  They are not usually very visible.

This hyena was following the cheetah that was following the herd of antelope.  I'm sure he got a tummy-full before the morning was over. 


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