Did you know that hyena cubs are born with their eyes open, their teeth erupted and ‘aggressive’ tendencies developed? They are therefore playful from a very early age. All cubs live in a communal den where they are fed very rich milk sometimes up to 1,5 years. This is a clever strategy as it means the hyena mothers do not have to bring back meat to the den, wasting energy and possibly attracting the attention of lions.
Hyena are fascinating. Females are dominant in the group and female cubs inherit their mother’s status. Females are larger than males and their genitals resemble a penis. Since this is also the birth channel, giving birth can be problematic. Unlike most of their competitors all three senses needed for hunting are excellent: smell, hearing and sight – including night vision. They are intelligent and highly social: a pack may communicate with one another using more than a dozen different calls. Their food strategy is adaptable: they scavenge when appropriate but they are also highly successful hunters and they put in the effort. They can follow prey for long distances and can run as fast as 60km per hour. All in all, the hyena is probably the most successful large carnivore in Africa.