The faint Hyena

Grumeti | February 2019

It was around 06:30am one morning guests and I left Sasakwa lodge for a morning game drive. We found the Butamtam pride with 12 individuals walking across the Sasakwa plain and so we followed the Lions for some time.

As we followed, we realized that they were headed to a small pond to drink. On that pond there was one hyena also drinking and it wasn’t aware that lions were approaching from behind also, like the Hyena, looking to quench their thirst.

By the time Hyena realized the Lions were close, it was too late to escape. The unsuspecting Hyena was surrounded and with nowhere to run was caught and roughed up significantly by the larger, more powerful Lions.

We watched in amazement, the Hyena appeared motionless. Had the Lions killed the Hyena with a devastating bite? The hyena remained absolutely motionless beneath the bulk of the male Lion. The Lions eventually released the Hyena but remained close by watching and waiting for any sign of life.

My guests and I were glued to the scene, also waiting for the slightest sign of life. As the sun began to rise in the sky more than an hour later, the Lions moved off to the nearby shade of the thickets. Amazingly the Hyena twitched…there was movement! Slowly and tentatively the Hyena gathered itself as if to come back from the dead, stood up and simply ambled away unnoticed by the Lions, who by this time were fast asleep. It was an incredible moment and till this day I cannot decide if the Hyena had feigned death or simply fainted at the thought of being torn to pieces by the Lions! Either way, the Hyena had outsmarted the Lions…knowingly of not I suppose we will never know.