The Spotted Hyena is one of Tshukudu Game Lodges’ most iconic animals, known for their distinctive sloping backs, social and opportunistic behaviour. Although being scavengers, they are actually very successful hunters.
These carnivores hunt alone or mostly in clans especially when they are dominant in a certain area. They will most likely scavenge when other predators are in close proximity, taking risks in snatching meat away from lions or leopards, putting their lives at risk with the possibility of being mauled to death.
Vulnerable animals in a herd are usually identified, isolated and relentlessly pursued in an unsettling way when blood has been tasted. A steady, fast pace can be maintained as they are designed for the long haul and hyenas will pursue prey over several kilometres until it succumbs to exhaustion. A favourite on the menu for hyena clans are wildebeest, zebra and kudu and smaller animals such as baboons, guinea fowls, snakes and tortoises when hunting alone. With tremendously powerful jaws, they are capable of crushing the bones in one bite.
Hyenas in clans are led by a dominant female and comprises of between 10 and 40 animals in some instances shifting allegiances, breaking up and reforming. Being extremely territorial, hunting grounds are marked through communal defecation and vigorously defended by acting aggressively to other predators entering their area.
The average litter consists of two cubs, with three occasionally being reported. Males take no part in the raising of young. Cubs enter life with their eyes open and some of their teeth erupted, and within minutes siblings are fighting one another to establish dominance. Cubs inherit their mother’s rank, and the higher it is, the more likely her cubs will reach adulthood and reproduce: status ensures powerful allies, extra protection and a bigger share of the food. Long maligned as nasty scavengers, hyenas turn out to be very protective parents.