Anyone born and bred in Virginia or North Carolina, as I am, knows the tale of the Lost Colony of Roanoke forwards and backwards. It’s the true story of colonial settlers who arrived in 1587, then disappeared only three years later, leaving no trace but the word “Croatoan” etched into a gatepost. Even now, there are only theories as to what happened to the 118 men, women, and children all those years ago.
|ILLUSTRATION BY NORTH WIND PICTURE ARCHIVES/ALAMY|
So what does a lost colony have to do with hyenas? Well, you could say that some of our hyenas have disappeared without a trace, and I couldn't help but draw parallels between them and the vanished colonists.
The saga began when our Happy Zebra hyenas moved dens in early December. Usually, when the clans change dens, it’s only a few days before we figure out where they’ve relocated. But after a week, two weeks, then three weeks had passed, we realized we might not find their new den for a long while. Now, almost two months later, I can say with confidence we have no idea where they are.
While historians are studying antique maps and archaeological sites to discover the fate of the Roanoke colonists, we hyena researchers are depending on radio-collar tracking, our knowledge (albeit, sometimes limited knowledge) of the territory, and strategic driving to find our clan. Best case scenario: we happen upon the active den one day while our on obs.
Current scenario: after two months of searching, tracking, and hoping, we still haven’t found the den. But we have seen Pike the matriarch, Cosby, and a few sub-adults and older cubs in a particular field many times over. You could say this is our version of the “Croatoan” clue – an indication of where they might be, but alas, no luck yet. It’s a pretty big field to search.
|Just a section of the area we think they might be hiding.|
One thing is for sure: we can't wait to see these goofy faces again!