Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What Makes The Best Den

We have a variety of dens in both Talek West and Fig Tree. These dens can be found in areas crowded with trees and shrubs or open plains surrounded by ponds and luggas (areas surrounded by small bushes that fill with water when it rains). Each den comes with its own pros and cons and some are considered to be better than others. Below you will find a list of dens being used by the hyenas we study.

Theory of Mind Den

Theory of Mind Den is one of our newest dens. It is located in Fig Tree. This den is located on an open plain near a lugga.

 POTTER sacked out by the den with cub Kibera.

Pros: You can see everything (well everything besides what goes on inside the den hole). The 360 degree view that this den offers makes transcriptions (the notes we collect during observations sessions) much easier. There are no trees or bushes blocking the interactions between the hyenas or the spots of the hyenas. Without seeing the spots it can be difficult to accurately identify someone.

Cons: This den leaves the hyenas very vulnerable to threats. Recently we had a lion hyena interaction. During this interaction a couple of male lions approached the den hole and tried to stick their heads down the den. Fortunately none of the cute cubs or older hyenas were injured!

Den One Creek Den

This den is home to what we call the Royal Family in Talek West. Our matriarch along with her daughters and sisters call this den home. Many other high and mid ranking hyenas can also be seen in play with the cubs here. Den One Creek, or DOC den as we here in Fisi camp like to call it is located near a lugga and surrounded by a thicket. There are also lots of trees and bushes on each end of the den hole.

Wrangler sacked out by the den being pestered by her two cubs, DEGE and ENOU.

Pros: The den offers both protection and shade. It would be very difficult for a large animal such as a lion or buffalo to get through the thicket and near the den hole. This den is also filled with playful and rambunctious cubs that like to explore and come very close to the car.

Cons: Many of the hyenas interact within the thicket. This makes it difficult to not only ID them but to also determine what kind of interactions (aggressions, greetings, nursing, grooming) they are doing. Good luck recording all of the behaviors that happen at this den. Once the hyenas move into the thicket every observation session becomes a challenge.

Kind See ‘Em Den

Well the name of this den says it all. Kind of See ‘Em Den is located in Talek West and is surrounded by a host of trees and bushes. It is home to most of our low rankers.

One of out mystery cubs getting ready to emerge the bushes. 

Pros: The den offers protection from threats such as lions, buffalos, and elephants. There are no roads that lead to this den, which means less traffic. This den is the perfect formula for a serene and quiet den session.

Cons: You cannot see anything! The den holes are located deep within the thicket. It’s a lucky day when one of the cubs or moms decides to emerge the den to give you a glimpse of their spots. Many of the adult females who live near this den have had cubs that we still have not seen. We suspect that these mothers have cubs due to their torn phalluses (indicates when a mother has given birth). These mothers and new cubs have left us with a lot of work to do. It is going to be difficult to determine which cub belongs to which mother. Many of the moms nurse within the thicket leaving us with little clues as to whom these cubs belong to.

What do you think of these dens? Which one is your favorite? Leave your comments below.

No comments:

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science