Dens are my favorite places to sit at and do observations. I get to watch the cubs play, grow up, and learn. They start out as small funny looking but adorable black cubs who come out of the den so nervously and bob their heads up and down, smelling the air. Over the course of months, these cubs grow into bold, confident, fluffy cubs who strut up to the den and then leave the den whenever they want. They look so full of themselves (like any teenager). Don’t need mom! My favorite stage is when the cubs are still small but are very playful and are no longer worried about coming out of the den. Mom becomes their favorite jungle gym, and the moms are always so patient with them.
|Jungle gym!! Hooker with her cubs Thriller and Mim (Man in the Mirror) and a smaller black cub. I couldn't resist putting these two pictures in.|
|Thriller sitting on his mom!|
But lately we have been having trouble getting to some of our dens… Our North clan has been denning in a cave! This is really cool but impossible to get to. The cave is near the top of a very steep, rocky hill. We can get within about 350m of the cave, and then there are just too many rocks. Our hyenas appear as distant specs, if you can even see them. When we look through our binoculars, we can see multiple adults and cubs of a variety of ages up there but that is about it. We have not seen the small den cubs in over a month. These include Deni (Dennis the Menace), Kath (Kathleen Hanna), Jett (Joan Jett), and Remi (Remington). I cannot wait for them to move dens. Last time we saw those four, Kath was the only one with spots. They are going to be so big and spotty!!! I hope they move soon!
|Can you spot the black cub? The cub is just under the entrance to the den. (Photo credits: Emily Thomas)|
Since February, our Happy Zebra clan had been at a very large den complex called Tigris Den. About a week and a half ago we showed up in the morning and nobody was there. That had never happened. We knew they must have moved dens, so we started driving the territory looking for a den or any hyenas. We did not see any hyenas anywhere except for one place. We were on one track and we could see them in the distance on a hill frolicking. The problem was we were separated by a large rock field and a lugga, a swampy area that was impassable. We have since been working on finding a track that might lead to this area and then figuring out the best areas to off-road drive in order to get to this particular hill and valley. We did it!! Unfortunately, we have still not been able to find the den. The four foot tall grass has been a major issue… , but we are happy that we are seeing hyenas.
South clan is being the good clan at the moment and we are very thankful to them! They are all at this one lovely den called Artemis Den. Well, until a few weeks ago, I might not have called it lovely. It is surrounded by tall grass which the hyenas can easily slip into and become hard to find, but we can get to it!! And the wildebeest have been helpful in shortening the grass. It is wonderful to go to the den and see all the cubs. South has a large range of cubs of different ages. There are small cubs who we have not even seen yet. We just know they are there because their mom, Marten, is guarding this one den hole. Slinky’s cub has just started coming out of the den hole and is completely black. There are cubs that are just getting their spots (Gnug and Snug) and are starting to get really curious about the car. There are larger cubs (Reina and Four Eyes) who still live at the den and the largest cubs who we barely see at the den any more. It is a busy den!
Hopefully, our Northies move to a more accessible den soon and we will find the Happy Zebra den, so we can go to a den every time we go out!