Monday, August 8, 2016

Mail from a male

Dear humans,

My name is Juba, and I am an immigrant male spotted hyena in Talek West clan.  Like all immigrant males in the Mara, I was named after a city: in my case, the capital of South Sudan.  I'm also currently the only Talek West hyena sporting a super-cool accessory: an old green ear tag, broken off in my left ear.  I prefer to think of it as an earring, thank you very much.  A really fancy earring.

This is me.  Check out my bling!
Anyway, I am writing to you with a simple request.  Lately, I've been following my lady love, a beautiful female named Helios, around the Mara.  She was named after a Greek god of the sun, and my, does she look it!  Check her out.

This is my girl.
Helios and I have been going on a few dates.  You know, wander sniffing, lying around in the bushes, stuff like that.  She was born in 2006 and has had many offspring, and I'm a little on the older side myself, so this is not our first rodeo.  We've just been spending some time together again, taking it slow.  But lately, our privacy keeps getting interrupted by this car.

Have you seen this car?
Everywhere we go, they find us.  I wonder if it's that thing Helios has around her neck.  Humans put it there, and while it's kind of a fabulous necklace, I think it might be leading them to us.  We're just an older couple, trying to spend some quiet time together, but just when we start to doze off, sheltering from the sun in a nice clump of bushes, they come up to us in that car and startle us out of our daydreams.  What's more, the last time it came, the car made a beeping noise at us: kind of like that sound wildebeests make, but sharper and more annoying.  They weren't really threatening us or scaring us, but it was still a little irritating.

So, humans, if you happen to know the people who drive that car, can you express my vexation to them?  Tell them this: I'm trying to court my lady here!  Can you be a bit quieter next time?

With all due respect for the super-cool hyena jewelry you make (but slightly bothered by the car thing),


Dear Juba,

Sorry about startling you!  I didn't mean to honk the horn of the car.  I was re-adjusting, balancing a bunch of equipment in my lap, and I hit the horn by accident.

We did not intend to disturb you or to interrupt your date.  We track our collared hyenas (like Helios) to find them and see what they're doing, and to gain new information about hyena movement patterns.  The data we collect is very important, because it helps our fellow humans to understand your kind better and hopefully to care about them more, so we can all work together to protect you and Helios and other animals in the Mara.  We try to be as quiet and as non-invasive as possible when we drive up to hyenas, but since you were hidden in the bushes, we didn't even see that we were driving so close to you until it was too late.  I feel really badly for startling you, and I will do my best to be more respectful next time.  We wish good luck to you and Helios, and we hope you will forgive us for the disturbance the other day.

My sincere apologies,

Amy Fontaine
Mara Hyena Project

Dear Amy,

You guys did give us the neat necklace and the earring, so I guess you're pretty okay.  Just drive a bit more carefully next time.



Disclaimer:  The above is an anthropomorphized account of actual events.  We can never really know what Juba, or any other hyena for that matter, may be thinking or feeling.  We received no letter of complaint from Juba, but I do owe him an apology, though he cannot read.  Sorry for honking the horn, buddy.

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