Thanks for that, Kate. I always find the sound of hyenas whooping quite spine-tingling.
It would have been a very interesting scenario if a plane had been due to land!
Not so long ago I wrote a blog highlighting some of the incredible sightings that have been witnessed on the Londolozi Airstrip over the years. And following on from the latest This Week in Pictures, in this blog I only add to that list of memorable moments!
Just the other morning, whilst having coffee on deck before drive, the distinctive “whooping” and laughing calls of hyena reverberated through camp as the sun began to rise. As a team of guides and trackers, hearing this noise so close to camp is always exhilarating as we know there must be some action close to camp! Not wasting any time, the first few vehicles out of camp headed straight towards the direction of where the noise was coming from.
Sure enough, not 2 minutes from Varty Camp the Styx Pride was found with a zebra kill at the northern end of the airstrip.
Surrounding the full-bellied lions were at least 20 hyena desperately hoping to get a share of what little was left of the meal. Not only were the hyena encircling the pride and trying their luck to creep closer and closer to the carcass, but we have also had two lionesses from the Nkuhuma Pride roaming around Londolozi recently and they too had heard the commotion and had arrived at the scene.
It ended up being an incredible morning where we were lucky enough to watch a number of different interactions take place. Hopefully the video clips and images below can transport you to the scene and share how our morning unfolded.
Interaction between Two Different Prides
With so much activity, vocalising from the hyenas, and responding growls from the lions, we didn’t know where to look!
What first caught our attention was two lionesses from the Nkuhuma Pride that slowly crept towards the Styx Pride surrounding the carcass in their attempt of trying to get a portion of the meal before the hyenas.
Given they are from two different prides, at first the Styx Pride responded with resistance to the Nkuhuma Females in a very similar way they were snarling and pushing back the many hyena when they got too close. After some time, however, as the Nkuhuma lionesses continued to slowly crawl closer with their heads down to the ground in a very submissive manner, the Styx Pride seemed to relax a little bit, eventually allowing these two unknown females to join the circle of final feeding.
Outnumbered by Hyena
Shortly thereafter, with full bellies and rather exhausted from fending off a large number of relentless hyena, the Styx Pride slowly left their guard and moved towards the thicket line to find some shade.
This meant the two Nkuhuma lionesses were free to finish feeding on whatever meat was left. However, it did not take long for the 20 or so hyena to notice that the shift in power was now heavily in their favour. Within seconds of the Styx Pride moving off, a gang of hyena advanced again. After a few resistant growls, the lionesses knew they were completely outnumbered and we watched in a fury of commotion as the hyena chased them right off the airstrip.
Within 20 minutes of the lions moving away from the scene, between the hyena and approaching vultures and other scavenging birds (Tawny Eagle) there was no evidence remaining on the airstrip – as if nothing had even happened that morning! It was a morning I will not forget.
Thank you Suzanne!