About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills that complemented his Honours degree in Zoology meant that he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the ...

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14 Comments

on Why the Hyenas are Alone

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Patsy Crisp
Member
Guest

Thanks very much – an interesting and well reasoned read to explain the solitary hyena behaviour in SS.

Gerrit
Member
Guest

Hi James. Derick Joubert made an interesting observation regarding total mass of predators in a pride or a pack to swing the balance in a predator’s favour. They found in Savuti that one lioness equals three hyenas in weight. If the total weight of a hyena pack outweighs the total weight of the lionesses in a lion pride, the favour generally swung in the hyena pack’s favour. Thought it may clear up your comment of where the 1 lion to 4 hyena ratio comes from. With big male lions, its a completely different situation as you are well aware of. Thank you for a great blog. Regards (Hunting with the moon – Derrick and Beverly Joubert)

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Gerrit,
That’s great info, thanks very much. Nice to know about the origins of that kind of thing, and I’d take Derek Joubert’s word as being pretty reliable as an authority on the subject! I haven’t read Hunting with the Moon myself but will try get hold of it.
Thanks again.
Best regards

Victoria Auchincloss
Member
Guest

As always I look forward to your blog. I have a question, we are coming back to your wonderful place in January and bringing a friend. He would love to get the blog if possible. His name is Mike Mort and his e mail address is mmort44111@aol.com. Thank you for your help. We are so looking forward to returning. Victoria Auchincloss

Amy Attenborough
Media Team

Hi Victoria. I’ll happily add him to the mailing list! Look forward to seeing you in January. Many thanks, Amy

Mike D
Member
Guest

From some of the amazing lion-hyena interaction videos from Londolozi and the history of the two tailless lions and the one young male that was nearly killed by a clan of hyeanas I thought it was safe to assume that hyeanas thrived in large clans. With the large lion population and presence of so male male coalitions I would imagine it would be very dangerous for hyeanas to patrol alone. I’m also shocked that the leopards, particularly the big males don’t challenge the hyeanas more. Very interesting blog and something that I never expected based on the storiesd and history of these two predators there.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Mike,
Thanks for your comments. It comes as a surprise to most people to find out that they generally scavenge alone, although on occasion a clan will unite to take on lions. Incidents like this are uncommon though and more often than not take place in the dead of night when no one is around. Perhaps they take place more than we think…

Mike ryan
Member
Guest

Thanks James fascinating as always

Jill Larone
Member
Guest

Thanks James, for a very interesting blog!

Lea
Member
Guest

Very interesting blog James. Thanks for sorting out the dynamics of hyena, lions and leopards. Really enjoyed reading about it. Thank you.

Guy
Member
Guest

Here’s the study that suggested that hyaenas generally must outnumber lionesses by a factor of 4 to take over a kill (from Savuti):

Cooper, S. M. (1991). Optimal hunting group size: the need for lions to defend their kills against loss to spotted hyaenas. African Journal of Ecology 29, 130–136

Ps who’d win a fight, a lion or a tiger?

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Thanks Guy.
PS Haha!

Callum Evans
Guest contributor

Very interesting post! The hyena’s strategy in the Greater Kruger System is definitely different from other areas that I’ve read about. In the Kalahari for example they have small clans too but prefer to hunt prey like gemsbok and wildebeest, as well as scavenging from other predators. In Savuti, there seems to be the stereotypical hyena/lion wars, with hyenas regularly confronting lions. I know in Liuwa Plains they’re the dominant predators (there are only 8 lions there) and in the Serengeti they varying between hunting and competition. That’s just a couple of examples that I know about, I can’t speak for other regions.

Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

Interesting facts about hyenas, lions and leopards. Another good book about hyena is Hyena Nights Kalahari Days by Guss Mills who studied hyena in the Kgalagadi and Kruger.

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