Hyenas are fascinating animals. These widely misunderstood creatures are often viewed in a negative light by those who have little or no experience with them. Many people have a warped perspective of what they are really like, which hasn’t been helped by misinformation fed by various Hollywood animations. I mention no names.
One of the easiest ways to change someone’s perception of hyenas is to sit at a densite and watch the interactions between the mothers and cubs. Preconceptions fly out the window as the little ones chase each other, annoy their mothers, sub-adults scurry past with bones in their mouths, and the antics of the clan amuse all and sundry.
We are very fortunate here at Londolozi to have at least two densites currently active. I say ‘at least’ as there may be others that we don’t yet know of. The most commonly visited site is east of camp, near our boundary. Until recently there have been 3 different litters of cubs kept there.
We were pleased to discover a new addition to the clan a little over a week ago, when a tiny cub poked its nose out of the den in what must have been one of its first excursions into daylight. Hyena cubs are born almost black, only acquiring their spots at a few months of age. Uniquely among carnivorous mammals, hyena cubs are born with their eyes open, making it slightly harder to age them accurately.
Going on his size, this latest cub is very, very young; a few weeks old at the most. Knowing that young hyenas remain at the den for over a year before embarking on foraging expeditions, we should be seeing this youngster for some time to come.
Written by: James Tyrrell
Filmed by: Helen Young and Enoch Mkhanzi