Knowing the territory of our hyena clan is critical in being able to locate and observe hyenas. The Talek West territory is around 65 km2 and has many different areas where hyenas prefer to hangout. Below is a map made by David Green that shows the different landmarks within Talek West and the territory boundary (the red line) of the clan.
When we go on observation in Talek West we go to different locations depending on what we are trying to accomplish. If we are darting, we drive around the territory looking for potential targets. If we are planning on doing milk or egg trails, we usually head to an active den. If, neither of these things are needed to be done, we usually drive to typical hangout spots of the hyenas. Typical hangout spots include dens or areas where we continually see hyenas. After leaving camp (yellow star) we cross at either Suicide X (red arrow), Leopard X (orange arrow), or Lemayian X (blue arrow).
|To Fig Tree|
If we are going to Fig Tree territory, a different clan, we use either the blue route or yellow route to get there. We take the blue route if we want to observe the Fig Tree hyenas south of Talek River, and we take the yellow route if we want to be north of Talek River. If we do observation within Talek West, we stay mostly within the boundary.
Hyenas live in a fission-fusion societies (Kruuk 1972; Holekamp et al. 1997). This means that within a single clan of hyenas, such as our Talek West clan, there are multiple sub-groups that exist. The members of these sub-groups are dynamic by coming together and splitting apart. In Talek West the clan is currently divided into 3 large sub-groups. Though the members of each sub-group do interact with other sub-group members, we more often see them associate with members of their same sub-group.
We have one group that has been recently found in areas denoted by the red circle on the map. Ashlei, Chase, and I refer to these hyenas as the DOC den-ers (They usually den around Den One Creek). This group contains mostly high ranking females and their cubs. HEL, BUAR, AMAZ, and ATAC, some of the top females in Talek west, are continually seen in this areas.
The second group we call the KCM-ers. These hyenas are active within the yellow circle. These hyenas are very frustrating because the KCM area contains dense bushes. We are unable to observe the hyenas in this area as regularly as the other two groups.
The last group we refer to as the Pond Lugga crew. These hyenas are typically found in the area within the blue oval. These hyenas have used multiple dens within this circle in the last few months, and we often see them in areas outside the blue oval as well.
Not only do we enjoy watching hyenas interact with each other, we also enjoy finding and guessing where different hyenas will be from day to day. Going on observation each day it is alway an adventure, but knowing where you are going keeps it from turning into a nightmare.
Kruuk, H. 1972. The spotted hyena: a study of predation and social behavior. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 335 pp.