Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Circle of Life

If you follow this blog, you probably remember my post in August about Rangsang, one of our South Clan hyenas, taking down a baby wildebeest. This next post will also be about Rangsang, but focusing on a very different aspect of her life.

One day, not too long witnessing the hunt, we pulled up to the South communal den and went about our usual business of identifying and getting locations for all of the hyenas. All of a sudden, Rangsang came walking out of the den. My co-RA Emily and I were surprised to see her there, as usually only mothers who are nursing cubs go into the den itself. We made a mental note to keep an eye out and see if Rangsang has cubs.

We waited. And waited. Every time we went to the South den, Rangsang was there, sacked out in the den. But there was no sign of little black cubs head poking in the den. Three weeks went by, and we were getting a bit desperate.

Then one day, we found Rangsang sacked out in a den a few hundred meters from the communal den. She had moved her (still alleged at this point) babies to a natal den. This is unusual, but not unheard of. We waited in anticipation for her cubs to appear, but no one emerged from the den.

Rangsang on the left with a friend.
Every time we went to South Territory, we would stop by Rangsang's natal den. We would always see her there, usually hanging out with a friend. Deathstar would often stop by, as would Firefly and Honor Harington. Every time Rangsang would be blocking the den, shooting us looks of disdain as we tried to see her cubs.

Finally it happened. On September 12, Emily and I drove up to Rangsang's den to find several hyenas lounging about. Rangsang, Java, Kapuas River, Gili Island, Sea Biscuit, and Akita were all there. And two little black cubs were poking their heads out of the den.

Little Black Cubs!

In the Mara, there is death and there is life. Last month I saw Ransang take the life of an animal. And this month I saw how she produced two new lives. Sometimes in the field we get desensitized to what we see everyday and forget how awe-inspiring the world is. Getting to see the circle of life in action has given me back my sense of appreciation and wonder.

So, without further ado, I would like you to meet the newest additions to South Clan, Vera Rubin (VERA) and Jeanne Altmann (JANN).

Rangsang nursing JANN while VERA plays

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