First light on the Mara plains, and the Marsh Pride lionesses have eaten well. In the night they have killed a giraffe and are resting up near the remains of the carcase. The peace doesn’t last though. And it isn’t us who are bothering them.
Other predators are moving in on the leftovers. First a black-backed jackal comes trotting by, watches hopefully from the side-lines. Her chances are looking slim…
…already the heavy mob are moving in – a pack of spotted hyenas.
As I said in an earlier post, hyenas do not only scavenge, they are powerful hunters with jaws like demolition-crushers. And despite their lop-sided gait, their feet with blunt, non-retractable claws, are well adapted for the long-distance chase. They can take down a wildebeest and eat and digest the lot (apart from horns and rumen) within 24 hours. They will also eat anything, including the faces of sleeping humans caught out without sufficient night-time protection. This was a commonly reported horror while we lived in Kenya. In consequence they are East Africa’s most successful large predator, apart from politicians, that is.
Here, one of the pack has made a rush on the kill and escaped with some leg bones, but it doesn’t look as if sharing is on the hyenas’ menu.
The lionesses go on watching, alert in that laid-back kind of way that cats do so well. The remnants are not worth fighting over. When the time comes, and bellies are empty, they will make another kill.
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copyright 2014 Tish Farrell