Hyenas are one of the most common predators in the Tuli area, and their haunting whoops are characteristic of the African night.
© Female hyena keeping an eye on her pups
Spotted Hyenas are commonly seen in the Tuli Area. Tuli's Hyenas live in a clan dominated society in which the female members are dominant
. This leads to a formidable female group of territorial hunters which defend the territory against competing clans. The females are dominant because they are larger and heavier than the males and are therefore given preference when feeding.
The sturdily built hyenas have strong necks and forequarters, and have a sloping back. The differentiation size between its hind and front legs is evident in their paw prints or tracks. They have dark brown fur and are largely covered in black spots
. They have bulky heads to accommodate their massive jaws, which are incredibly powerful and have the capability to tear apart flesh and crush the bones of its prey.
Female dominance extends all the way to a physiological level, as the female genitalia includes a penis-like organ that frequently becomes erect when the Hyena is excited, during greeting and mating rituals between clans. This gave rise to the idea that Hyena's are hermaphrodites
which is certainly not the case.
Hyenas roam the savannas and open plains of Africa. They have the reputation of being scavengers when they are in fact fearsome hunters. They possess an excellent sense of smell, sight and sound
, enabling them to be formidable hunters in the dark. They are often the first to smell a carcass and track the smell over a large distance, thus they are usually the first at the scene of a carcass and hence the assumption that they are scavengers.
These animals are largely nocturnal, and rest during the day
. They mainly hunt prey at night, chasing them for up to five kilometres at a speed of up to 50km/h. While hunting and scavenging on their own, clan members will work together to bring down prey like Zebra or Wildebeest who have wandered away from the protection of their herds.
Hyenas often tend to attempt to snatch prey from other predators, and while they are relatively successful with Cheetah, they tend to run into a lot more trouble when attempting this with Leopard or Lions.
In the Tuli area, the distinctive sounds of whooping and giggles
are the most unmistakeable sounds in the African night, adding to the bush feel and the idea of sleeping out in the wild. These squealing sounds can carry across the Tuli plains and can be heard for many kilometres.