The outcast of the Savannah

Hyena’s are assumed to be the lowest ranking animal in the animal kingdom, therefor we see them as outcasts of the savannah.

Every animal in nature has a specific place to which it belongs. They may associate with vultures and serve as part of nature’s clean up team, but they are not cowardly carnivores. Hyenas have some of the toughest jaws in the animal kingdom, with an adult’s bite strength reaching up to 1000 pounds per square inch, making them ideal for destroying bones and removing carcasses. With several other predators, they have the ideal love-hate relationships. They will force other competitors such as lions apart from their prey if they have a number advantage, but the roles can be reversed, and lions can easily drive hyenas off from one of their effective kills.

Hyenas are excellent hunters who rely on agility, stamina, and coordination to capture their target, which ranges from wildebeest to small antelope. They are thought to kill approximately 50 and 75 percent of their own food, which is impressive for an animal that is thought to survive off rotting carcasses and scraps. They have incredible patience, as they will sit calmly for two days underneath a tree while a leopard eats above, ready for the tiniest scrap of meat to drop. This confirms the adage that “good things come to those who wait.” Spotted hyenas are amazing carnivores with social arrangements that are like those of primates like baboons.

There are 4 different subspecies of hyenas:

  • Spotted hyena
  • Striped hyena
  • Brown hyena
  • Aardwolf

Hyenas normally have 2 to 4 cubs per litter. Cubs start eating meat from kills around the den when they are around five months old, but they are nursed for up to 18 months, which is exceptionally long for predators. Since most kills are achieved far from the den, however unlike jackals and hunting dogs, hyenas would not carry food back to regurgitate for their offspring, this is possibly a requirement.

The territorial clans are made up of associated individuals. The den, in which the offspring are born and raised and are met by individuals, is the hub of clan interaction. They mark and protect their areas by smearing a pungent substance formed by the anal glands on vegetation stalks along its edges.

People often assume that the Aardwolf is not apart of the hyena family because it looks like a mixture of the Striped hyena and the Brown hyena. They simply think that the Aardwolf is not natural apart of the hyena family, but it is.

The Aardwolf has quite a yellowish-brown jacket with many longitudinal black lines, a frizzy, black-tipped tail, and a long, rough, dark-haired line on its back that rises whenever it is threatened or afraid. The Aardwolf is 40-50 cm tall at the shoulder, the tail is 20-25 cm long, 65-80 cm in length across nose to tail, and weighs from 8 and 12 kg.

You can add this exceptional creature to your bucket list for your next Kruger National Park Safari.