A young hyena bars it’s teeth while assuming a submissive posture to a much larger adult. Female hyena are larger and more dominant than males. Offspring born to the dominant female automatically assume the next highest rank in the group. Their powerful jaws are among the strongest in the animal word and allow them to crush and eat bones.
On the drive down from Olifonts to Satara campgrounds we came across a family of hyenas sitting in a man made watering hole. After a few minutes of relaxing in the water two of the hyenas started splashing around the pool. There are many of these watering holes throughout the park and they represent the old way the park and wildlife were managed. In the past, during periods of extreme drought parks staff would fill the basins with water so that there weren’t as many wildlife die-offs. However, this selected for less drought tolerant species and the number of drought resistant species like sable antelope that had naturally evolved to the climatic conditions have decreased. Going forward, most of the man-made watering holes will be decommissioned and the animals will have to re-adapt to life without year round water throughout the park.
With full stomachs and having just cooled off in the artificial pool a young hyena decides to play a game of tag with a somewhat less enthused adult. The game lasted about ten minutes before they made their way back to the den to rest and get out of the heat for the day.
One of my favorite photos from the trip. This female spotted hyena and several others were observed during a night game drive at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Mount Kenya. She was initially laying down, but as we approached she slowly got up and walked past us on her way to what turned out to be a den site with many other adult hyenas and pups running around (photos to come in subsequent posts). The menacing shadow of the hyena makes this photo stand out to me and captures the perception of the hyena being a sinister night time predator.