Tag Archives: spotted hyenas

KNP – Hyenas well spotted!

Anyone who knows me, knows that apart from birds and animals, the next great passion in my life (apart from Rob of course) is playing the card game of Bridge.  In case you’re wondering what Bridge has got to do with a nature blog, please just bear with me for a minute or two.  Often when one plays Bridge there are days when there is a predominance of contracts in the same suit, so for example a day will be dominated by Heart contracts or Spade contracts .  Most players comment on it when it happens, so it’s not just something that I notice.  Getting back to nature, I have found that a similar thing happens on our trips.  We find we go to different places and come across loads of a particular bird or animal even though they were not particularly on our wish list.  We saw this in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park with Secretarybirds (fourteen of them at one water hole) and it happened again on our recent visit to the Kruger National Park, when we seemed to see more Spotted Hyenas than usual.

Beautiful young Spotted hyena

We came across these animals just about every day we were in the Park.  We must have just been very lucky, because other folks commented that they hadn’t seen any.  So here is a selection of photos taken on different days at different times.

Spotted hyena on the hunt

These rather ungainly creatures have an important role to play in nature.  You can read more about them in our previous blog written way back in 2010.

This mother and baby came out of the bush and then lay down in the road and started a feeding session.  Too cute!

Mother and baby Spotted hyena Feeding time on the warm asphalt

They are nocturnal creatures, so one shouldn’t really see them about much during the day.

Spotted hyena - early morning Spotted hyena - early morning

In my next blog I will chat about our time in the Punda Maria/Pafuri area where the birding was especially rewarding.  Until next time ….

Spotted Hyenas in Kruger National Park

A visit to the Kruger National Park in South Africa is such a rewarding experience for avid animal and bird lovers like ourselves.  We have just returned from a holiday in that part of the world and have literally hundreds of photographs to add to our collection.  Kruger is renowned for being home to the Big 5 – namely lions, elephants, buffalos, rhinos and leopards – and the challenge is to see all these in one day.  No mean feat when leopard numbers are low (only about 1000 were recorded in 2008) and the Park covers 20 000 square kilometers – the size of Wales!  Some folks have been going to the Park for years and still haven’t notched up the Big 5 in one day.

While it is thrilling to be able to see the Big 5, it is also great to come across animals that are not so common or, during the daytime, to see nocturnal animals that haven’t settled down to sleep off the night’s excesses.  Imagine our delight when, at first light, we came across a pair of spotted hyenas lying by the roadside.  We approached them very slowly, worried that they would scurry off into the bush, but they were very accommodating and remained exactly where we found them, enabling us to get some great photos of them.

Spotted hyena at the roadside KNP

Spotted hyena at the roadside KNP

Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) are carnivores and belong to the family Hyaenidae.  They tend to have bad press as they are mostly seen as cowardly scavengers in competition for prey that lion and other predators bring down.  However, they are skilled hunters in their own right and feed mainly on ungulates and weaker animals that are easy to catch.

Spotted hyena at the roadside KNP

They have strong stocky forequarters, whilst their hindquarters are shorter and sloped downwards, making it difficult for other animals to catch them from behind.  Their ungainly shape can be seen in the photo below – this was the second sighting we had of a hyena.  It had hidden the remains of a carcass in the water and had come back to retrieve its meal.  Prey is usually eaten alive and hyenas have voracious appetites – consuming about 14,5 kgs of meat at each meal.

Retrieving a carcass from the water

Our third sighting was also early in the morning, when we came across a mother hyena suckling two young cubs in a den next to the road.  She seemed unconcerned by the human paparazzi that were clicking away at the scene before them.

Mother and cubs

The gestation period is about 110 days and cubs (usually two, but sometimes three) are born throughout the year.  Hyenas rarely dig their own dens, preferring to use deserted warthog or jackal lairs.  Males don’t take part in the rearing of the youngsters, thus hyenas are mainly found in matriarchal clans, often sharing their dens.

Two suckling cubs

They may not be as exciting as the Big 5, but we enjoyed our encounters with these awkward-looking creatures and now know a lot more about them than we did before.