One afternoon while exploring the northern parts of Londolozi, we decided to try our luck with the newly active hyena den. It can be a hit and miss as the cubs only really come out of the den when an adult is around, which is usually early morning and late afternoon. As we approached the den, fairly slowly, to try and not frighten the small inhabitants, we briefly saw a cub quickly scurry away into the den’s opening. We knew we were in luck.
Soon after we turned off the vehicle and all the excitement died down, what we initially thought was just three cubs, one by one, turned into six. We then spent the next 30 minutes or so watching these curious little creatures, and here are some of the pictures:
A mother hyena will come back to the den early morning and late afternoon to nurse her cubs. While we were there, this cub didn’t once pop its head up while nursing from its mother, even with the noise of the vehicle. Just goes to show the hyenas love for a meal starts at a young age.
Hyenas use old dugout termite mounds as a den. At any sign of danger, the cubs are quick to dash into the den and will remain there until they are certain the danger is gone, this is often only when an adult is around.
Two cubs sitting at the entrance to the den
For a while we thought there were only five cubs, until a tiny black head of a younger cub popped out of the den, only to quickly pop back in again. Eventually, its curiosity got the best of it and it emerged from its hiding spot.
Most of the cubs looked similar in age and were probably around three months old. They are born black and it is only at about three months that their spots start to show.
The scene for most of the afternoon, with one mother nursing her cub while the others, most likely belonging to other females of the clan, explore their surroundings.
Hyenas are naturally curious animals, and we start to see this from a young age as they often approach the vehicle to get a closer look.
As we were driving around the mound to leave, four of the cubs came out to watch us.
I often find that many people have a preconceived idea about hyenas. They are in many minds associated with death and their menacing behaviour may come across as cowardly, or even their call can come across as evil laughter. It is very seldom that after leaving a hyena den such as this that guests still feel that way, as I think seeing the start of the life of a hyena is just as special and remarkable as any of the other predators we may see here at Londolozi.