Hyena Heist in the Mara


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

35 thoughts on “Hyena Heist in the Mara

    1. Yep. I was thinking of you, Noel, when I wrote this post. Hope the invocation of hyenas/politicians didn’t make you feel too gloomy. Unavoidable really.
      K.B.O as Winston Churchill used to say: Keep B*****ing On

      1. No, on the contrary it is something we see so often we actually would surprised to hear of a politician who isn’t stealing. They get paid to ask questions or not to ask. They are on our pay and on the pay of the highest bidders too. Idiots all of them

      2. Oh dear, Noel. It is so depressing that the aspirations of Kenya’s politicians seem to never get beyond ‘cake eating’. Kenyans work so hard, it would not take very much in terms of input to change the lives of everybody.

      3. You are right Tish. Guys work so hard and the politicians work so hard to plunder and waste. I lack only the means to dispatch a good number of them to rest

      4. You see of course, if there were actually a just god, he would have despatched the lot long ago. A bit of smiting with thunderbolts etc would not come amiss, eh.

  1. “…the heavy mob are moving in – a pack of spotted hyenas…” – hi Tish, I couldn’t resist to let my thoughts wandering – had to understand HYENAS MOVING IN metaphorically, looking back to my life…

  2. Awesome pictures you have, Tish! It must be amazing to get up close with those animals. Beautiful storytelling there, too! Have a lovely day! =)

  3. This is so impressive on many levels . I would love to see this in person. Thanks so much for sharing. I have read about THE MOB….the circle of life continues!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Kathryn. It’s interesting though, despite the fact we were lucky to spend quite a bit of time in the African bush, when you are actually there it’s rather hard to believe that it isn’t a dream. Strange paradox.

  4. I have been reading about hyenas. They certainly are well adapted to survive when everything else might not. Scary and fascinating at the same time. Great pictures and narrative. Thank you.

    1. Hyenas are certainly forbidding looking creatures, and with not very nice habits! But I guess their role on the plains is v. essential – the clean-up guys with attitude.

  5. They are powerful scavengers and predators…but I hadn’t heard about eating human faces, ugh. We had a scary situation once with them in a camp in Awash, Ethiopia…but luckily it ended well. Great pics!

  6. Fantastic shots Tish! Wow! I love the Lions and jackals. Not crazy about hyenas but they do serve a purpose as well. Great post and photo’s hon. 😀

      1. I loved it and yes, just what you said, but you do make them look beautiful with your stunning photo’s. 😀

  7. Apart from the politicians, of course. Thanks for the wonderful images, Tish. My favourite program is usually animal planet. It is awe-inspiring. There was a video I had in the university titled Animals Are Beautiful People. It was shot in the Kalahari. I can’t get a full one on You-Tube these days (there are only 2-4 minute links) but it is one of the best ones I’ve ever seen. The San people are featured in it. Although derided for being “bushmen” they certainly understood their environment. They knew where they lived and how to live there, but now they face EXTINCTION because the government wants the land for tourism, etc.

    1. Yes, I think what has been happening to the San is despicable. In South Africa they were hunted down as sport in colonial times, at least according to Laurens Van der Post. And you’re right too. They knew/know how to live well in a difficult environment . They even lived peaceably with lions, which is pretty extraordinary. The film you mention sounds familiar. I’m not sure whether we’ve seen it or not. We watch a lot of wild life films and programmes too.

  8. You have caught an amazing slice of African life in this series of photos and the facts about the predators are very interesting. Ugh face eating! Not a nice thought.

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