Hyenas on the Hunt

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    A pack of three hyenas, a mom and two of her young, trotted in tuned to the smell of the lion’s kill. The young ones went to check it out. But she knew better. The hyenas need group of five to take on lion, so they sauntered off and came back later, once the lions were through, to crunch on the bones.

    (Click photo to enlarge; looks better large)

    Hyenas often get the leftover bones, and they produce a white scat rich in calcium. It was often used by the local people to make a powder to aid in healing burns.

    But the spotted hyena is not primarily a scavenger; it will kill up to 95% of its food supply, scare off larger predators, and is the most social of the hyenas.

    From their appearance and bone structure, some see elements of dog (hunting habits and paws) and some see cat (grooming, mating and social behavior). More recent genetic analysis concludes they are a different evolutionary branch altogether, of the family Hyaenidae.

    jeany777, WilliamBanzai7/Colonel Flick, and 5 other people added this photo to their favorites.

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    1. jmcminn 33 months ago | reply

      Steve - I find the stamina and pack hunting skills amazing. In a pack, they will harass/hunt just about any animal. On faster animals they just wear them down and then take them out!

    2. Astrocatou 33 months ago | reply

      Well....judged in a "human like way".....they really seem to be cowardly opportunists...bullies,etc.
      When they show up...I have to change channels.(!)

      I would like hyena's better if they were vegetarians...

    3. solerena 33 months ago | reply

      If one can choose between the lions and hyenas - i am on a side of the lions... and hyenas do look spooky to me....

    4. Dr DAD (Daniel A D'Auria MD) 33 months ago | reply

      A wonderful series of wildlife photos Steve. I think you may be even better at this than at rocketry photos!! You may also convince me to go to Africa sooner rather than later, if you keep this up.

    5. ukweli 33 months ago | reply

      Judged in a "human like way" Hyenas are positively upstanding citizens compared to male lions. Male lions will often kill, and sometimes eat the cubs of a pride so that the females will reenter estrous sooner. And that's only the beginning.

      It's a shame Hyenas have had a terrible rap for years. They are bizarre and fascinating.

    6. hvhe1 33 months ago | reply

      That's quite an impressive bunch. Good for the youngster to have mom around..

    7. Been Buddy Longway 33 months ago | reply

      A totally wonderful story in image and word
      Congrats, kudo's

    8. EricWesoff 33 months ago | reply

      Wonderful photos, Steve. Fascinating animal - a matriarchal society where the female mimics the male's reproductive organs as part of the dominance structure. I think that's what suggested Hemingway's "hermaphroditic" comment.

    9. Dabbler 33 months ago | reply

      Danger Will Robinson, Danger! having seen video of them attacking lions and cheetahs I'm inclined to agree with Hemingway.. maybe necessary in the ecosystem but keep them away from me ;)

      Great shots, are they laughing at you?

    10. flytrue2 33 months ago | reply

      Interestingly, Cape hunting dogs, Canis pictus, are smaller but reportedly have the highest hunting success rate among any of the pack predators on the savannah. ~Schaller "Golden shadows flying hooves"

    11. jeany777 33 months ago | reply

      Amazing! Fantastic photos, Steve! Thank you very much for sharing ..
      Also fascinating both the lions (the bro who gave to his H sis the meal) and the Hyenas Lions vs Hyenas

    12. Astrocatou 33 months ago | reply


      I think that video puts a finger on why we are not so fond of them...!

    13. TMLizzy Irwin 33 months ago | reply

      an incredible series!!! Wow!

    14. vennettaj 33 months ago | reply

      i wory about turning into werewolf if keep on checking these posts..
      ---
      or vampire

    15. RRNeal 33 months ago | reply

      these are truly amazing animals. thank you for the share.

    16. Shoshin Seishu 33 months ago | reply

      Wish they were more successful in taking down human animals...

    17. Chucil 33 months ago | reply

      Cute photos.

      They remind me of Jane Goodall and her book “Innocent Killers”.

    18. sbove 33 months ago | reply

      What's not to like about a Matriarchal species in which the Alpha-Matriarch uses her pseudo-male-member to mount others and assert dominance? Very kinky!

      From wikipedia: "the external genitalia of females closely resemble those of males: the 15 cm (6 inch)[9] clitoris is similar in shape and position to a penis, and is capable of erection.[22] The only visible difference between the penis of male spotted hyenas and the clitoris of females is that the latter's organ has a blunter tip."

      ps: I worked at Disney Animation during the making of The Lion King. Needless to say, a scene featuring the above anatomical/sociological fact was right-out. However, the Lion/Hyena theme used in the film was largely based on reality. From wikipedia: In areas where spotted hyenas and lions are sympatric, the two species occupy the same ecological niche, and are thus in direct competition with one another. In some cases, the extent of dietary overlap can be as high as 68.8%.[58] Lions typically ignore spotted hyenas, unless they are on a kill or are being harassed by them. Spotted hyenas themselves tend to visibly react to the presence of lions, whether there is food or not. Lions will readily appropriate the kills of spotted hyenas: in the Ngorongoro crater, it is common for lions to subsist largely on kills stolen from hyenas, causing the hyenas to increase their kill rate. Lions are quick to follow the calls of hyenas feeding, a fact which was proven by Dr. Hans Kruuk, who found that lions repeatedly approached him whenever he played the tape-recorded calls of hyenas feeding.[57] When confronted on a kill by lions, spotted hyenas will either leave or wait patiently at a distance of 30–100 metres until the lions have finished.[61] In some cases, spotted hyenas are bold enough to feed alongside lions, and may occasionally force the lions off a kill.[29] Spotted hyenas usually prevail against groups of lionesses unaccompanied by males if they outnumber them 4:1.[62] The two species may act aggressively toward one another even when there is no food involved. Lions may charge at hyenas and maul them for no apparent reason: one male lion was filmed killing two matriarch hyenas on separate occasions without eating them,[45] and lion predation can account for up to 71% of hyena deaths in Etosha. Spotted hyenas have adapted to this pressure by frequently mobbing lions which enter their territories.[63] Occasionally, lion prides and spotted hyena clans may engage in full warfare, as with a case in early April, 1999 in Ethiopia, in which 6 lions and 35 hyenas were killed over a two week period.[5] Experiments on captive spotted hyenas revealed that specimens with no prior experience with lions act indifferently to the sight of them, but will react fearfully to the scent.[29]

    19. Been Buddy Longway 33 months ago | reply

      thank you for this very interesting contribution, sbove, and for your testimony.
      (I am so interested, since we had some hyena's in our mother's family!

    20. jurvetson 24 months ago | reply

      - what, too kinky for Disney? It reminds me of another matriarchal line - the bonobo - that you won't find in zoos since the antics of that hedonistic bisexual sisterhood freaks out the puritan parents. =)

      I finally got to the photos of the cute hyena cubs in South Africa

      IMG_7404

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