Thursday, March 6, 2014

Stillborn giraffes and patient hyenas.

The other day while out on morning observations we saw a giraffe behaving very strangely. We first noticed her from almost a kilometer away, her tall form silhouetted against the rising sun to the east as we drove towards the river in south clan's territory. We thought it was odd to see just one giraffe and it wasn't until we were less than 100m away that we noticed the hyenas. There were 10 adult hyenas all sleeping in a circle around the giraffe. She seemed very distressed but unwilling to leave the ring of hyenas around her and we weren't sure why she didn't just walk off. It wasn't until we were just 25m away that we saw the dead calf at the giraffe's feet. It looked like it had been a stillborn, possibly born the night before. 

It seems that one adult giraffe can be quite formidable to a hyena, or ten. However, I was amazed by our hyenas patience. They knew they couldn't take on the mother giraffe but they were quite content to simply sleep and wait for the mother giraffe to give up on her dead calf. It was touching the way the mother giraffe would lower her head to nudge and sniff at the calf. She was clearly upset about the hyenas presence; it seemed that they made her even more reluctant to leave the calf. Though sad, this calf would provide a free meal for all the hyena moms that were patiently waiting. Four of the ten hyenas there all have little cubs at the den and they need nourishment too. 

We stayed with the giraffe and the hyenas for two hours before it started to get too hot and we left to go back to camp. The next evening there was no sign of the calf at all, since this is the lean time in the Maasai Mara for the hyenas this isn't too surprising. 

1 comment:

dee said...

Thanks Lily, I always love reading your posts and seeing the photos and videos. Please keep it up.

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