A few weeks ago, just as the migration was starting to show up, the hyenas worked themselves up into a bit of a frenzy for a few days. We had some crazy mornings with 2-3 kills a morning and some massive border patrols. One morning, we were out for our usual morning obs and came across a few hyenas in the morning darkness. We followed them and realized we had our work cut out for us when they joined a group of thirty hyenas. We automatically assumed that they were gearing up for another border patrol. As the sun came up and I mentally prepared myself for a difficult morning of data collection, the hyenas began trailing off in a line in typical border patrol fashion. They crossed the nearby lugga, began social sniffing and pasting all over the place, and then, much to my surprise, crossed the lugga again, went right back to where they had started, and began sacking out. A few hyenas seemed interested in a herd of zebra and some even made a few convincing lunges but, before we knew it, they were all play romping.
Usually play romping is done by cubs at the den so we were pretty surprised to see subadults and adults running around acting like children. The sheer number of hyenas playing was impressive to see. Even our oldest hyena, Navajo, got in on the play time.