The rainy season has started in the Mara, although this is always a good thing for the ecosystem, it certainly makes doing hyena work much more difficult. We do a lot of off-road driving in order to find our hyenas but we have to be extremely careful to not leave tracks with the tires while we’re driving. It only takes about 6mm of rain for off-road driving to be a no-go. Luckily in the Mara Triangle the roads are very well maintained so there are certain parts of all three hyena clan territories that we can usually get to even when its wet. Despite good roads and tracks we’ve already gotten stuck twice now in our furthest territory. (The first time we had to jack up the cruiser and put some rocks underneath the tire and the second time we were able to maneuver the cruiser out).
Once we arrive at a hyena den or find a group of hyenas we encounter an entirely different problem that the rainy season brings: muddy hyenas! Since we primarily use spots to ID hyenas the mud can be extremely frustrating. The hyenas love mud and they especially love to obscure the spot patterns that we use. On the hot sunny afternoons between evening rain showers the hyenas all seem to seek out muddy puddles where they can nap. Over the last year I’ve accumulated quite a few photos of unIDed muddy hyenas. If we’re lucky they have ear damage that we can use to identify them, but most of the time we can only guess.