June 2021

The spotted hyena

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The spotted hyena

The spotted hyena is an intelligent carnivore with massive jaws, powerful shoulders and front legs perfectly designed for ripping flesh and crushing bones. Females are noticeably larger than males and are more dominant than males. Only breeding males are tolerated near the dens and higher ranking females rear more cubs than subordinate females. Together though, they take care of the next generation. 

Leaving the den-site which is usually a termite mound dug up by an aardvark, hyena may travel up to 70km for food. Hyenas are opportunistic hunters, catching larger prey, and smaller prey such as hares, birds and reptiles. They eat carrion which they detect by smell and the sound of predators feeding or prey alarm calls. Their senses of smell and hearing are acute. Spotted hyena scent mark their territory through smearing a grass stem with a strong smelling liquid that is yellow and turns black over time. This shows how strong hyena are.

Sipho Night Sibuyi
By Sipho Night Sibuyi
Field Guide