Like it or not, hyenas play a crucial role in the amazing system we find ourselves a part of at Londolozi. They unfairly drag around a dark, sinister stereotype that labels them as scavengers, “bottom feeders” if you will. But there is so much more to their intricate society that we seldom get to see.
After recent forays into the west of the Sabi Sand the Majingilane have let up on some pressure. Pressure that had caused an entire shift in the hyena population in and around Londolozi. The hyenas simply adapted and moved to less densely populated lion areas. Now that the pressure is not as intense the hyenas are on their way back into the central parts of the reserve.
There has been some serious movement and the majority of the clan has left the den site off of Hobbit’s Hole road and found a new settling point. There was a lucky stage where, my tracker, Foster and I and were involved with the moving of cubs from one den to another. The den(marked by a green X) seemed active only for a day or maybe two and I believe it was a place to spend the day for the cubs to rest before permanently settling at the new den site off of Strip road.
This new den has provided some incredible viewing and has hyenas of many different ages interacting and showing a softer more affectionate side to these misunderstood predators. Particularly interesting for me over the last few weeks has been the emergence of a new young hyena from the depths of the burrows. We have watched the extremely nervous and protective mother relax and allow us to view her precious cub playing with the slightly older cubs around the den.
This new stronghold will be closely monitored and as the youngsters grow and mature so will their appetites. The instinctual drive to provide will force the large females to be more bold in their exploits, will we soon see more lion-hyena interaction or will they target the leopards?
In your opinion how accurate is the sinister hyena stereotype? Let us know your thoughts below!
Written and Photographed by Simon Smit