Sunday, June 4, 2017

Dik-dik hunt

Bush Life Update

It has been an exciting few weeks out here but I was still not expecting to see a hunt so soon! I have heard all kinds of gruesome stories about watching hyenas hunt and kill, so I was honestly a little apprehensive about witnessing one myself. Through the weeks I have seen several carcass sessions, but I had not actually seen the hyenas hunt start to finish. Luckily, my first full hunt got right to the point and it wasn’t a prolonged death for the unfortunate prey. Transcribing the kill was, well, a bit awkward at first, but I am glad I was finally able to witness one!

First Hunt

We were sitting in the car getting ready to leave a den session and head home for dinner when suddenly there was a lot of commotion. We look out the window to see BUAR, the matriarch of the clan, and HEL, her mother, chasing down a dik-dik right past our car! The hyena cubs started whooping as we rushed to turn our car around. We flew past bushes and around old den holes until we finally got our headlights back on the action. BUAR and HEL had the dik-dik in their jaws. The hunt didn’t last long, and the dik-dik seemed to die almost instantly (luckily for him). The mother-daughter duo seemed to be unsure of what to do with themselves and their easy kill. After a few moments of standing around, HEL’s cub, CRST, approached but was quickly snapped at by BUAR before giving up on the chance to feed. After standing around with the dik-dik in their mouths for a little longer, BUAR started to walk away with it, followed by her mother and a few cubs. She carried it away from the den and began to feed. Even though this hunt was short-lived, it was still fascinating to see! 
Bite sized hyena snack (they are actually quite cute).

Breaking Stereotypes

Spotted hyena have traditionally been thought of as scavengers, and although it is true that they will opportunistically scavenge, according to Smith (2010), they actually kill 60-95% of their food! Hyena skulls do not fully develop until nearly three years of age, but after complete development, they are easily able to crush through bone and digest it (Smith, 2010). These strong predators can even take down prey three times their size (Smith, 2010), making the dik-dik nothing more than a snack for BUAR.


Smith, J.E., & Holekamp, K. E. (2010). Spotted Hyenas. Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, 1, 335-349.

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