Something for everyone!

01 March 2013

Yesterday morning we were woken early by the the prehistoric cackles and whoops of a pack of hyenas close to camp. It was soon followed by the bellowing of a buffalo, which echoed through the valley in front of camp for almost one hour. As the sun rose we heard grunts and growls of lions and soon put all the noises together and realized there must have been a kill and these two enemies, the lions and hyenas, must have come across each other and argued over the meal!

As soon as the early morning light had crept over the landscape, we jumped in the car and dashed out to find out what had transpired earlier. After a few minutes of searching under every shrub and reading the natural signs of the wild to see if the impalas were tightly grouped in a nervous huddle or the baboons were shouting out an alarming bark, we spotted vultures arriving and darting down towards a gully a few meters away, so drove off to investigate.

Within seconds we started counting the hyenas... one, two, three, four.... ten, eleven.... and soon the numbers rose to approximately 40 hyenas, all mingling in the tall grass, under bushes and crowded around a very unfortunate female buffalo who had apparently met her fate earlier that morning.

It was incredible to see the interaction between the hyenas, vultures and a very brave black-backed jackal who kept dashing into the crowd in the hopes of grabbing a small morsel for himself. He got snarled at a few times but generally the hyenas seemed unperturbed by his presence.

It was also fascinating to note the hierarchy within the hyena clan. They all had to take turns in feeding and a few of the youngsters would chase away adults, obviously royal heirs.

The vultures would mostly wait patiently for their turn but every now and then one would get inquisitive or greedy and waddle across to the carcass, trying to get close enough to steal a bit, but soon got chased off by a rather annoyed hyena.

This went on for a while and soon most of the hyenas moved away, leaving only one to fight off all the hundreds of vultures that had arrived on the scene. We decided to leave him as he had enough to deal with. A few meters away we came across 3 young lions, including 2 beautiful males and one female. We sat with them for a few minutes and then followed them as they walked back to the kill, to eat in peace now that all the hyenas had left the scene.

We are still not sure what transpired that morning, whether the hyenas had killed the buffalo and the lions had tried to take it over or whether the lions were the main hunters and they had been chased off by this 40-strong clan of spotted hyenas.

Whatever the case, one thing is for definite... everyone - no matter how big, small, furry or feathery got their share of this meal!

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