Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Snared: A TRU Story

***Warning: These images show a severely wounded hyena. Viewer discretion is advised.***

On March 12, Maggie and I were driving around South territory when we came across Trumain (or TRU), one of our adult females. She was laying down, and didn't look at us when we drove up to her. We were horrified to discover that she had a snare around her stomach. 
Trumain when we first saw her with the snare.

This is the first snared hyena I have seen while in the Mara Triangle, and it is likely an old snare that poachers forgot about. We do not think it was a deliberate snaring, rather an old snare that Trumain came across while she was out and about.

We immediately called Talek camp, where Benson, one of the research assistants, is registered to dart hyenas. We got permission from the Mara Conservancy (the managing orangization for the Mara Triangle), and arranged for Benson, Mary, and Leah from Talek camp to come over the next day to try and dart Trumain to remove the snare.

We got up early on March 13 to drive around South territory, but we were unable to find Trumain that day. Spirits were waning, as the wound looked deep and could have cut into her body wall cavity. Hyenas can heal from a lot, but that would have been a major injury. The next day Maggie, Leah, Mary, Benson and I all got up and drove around South. We took three cars to maximize the area covered, and brought breakfast so we could eat in the car. Time was short; if we didn't find her by ten in the morning, it would likely be too late to dart her, as the hyenas need a long time to recover before night comes.

Just as we were about the give up, it happened! Mary, Leah, and Benson spotted her from across a lugga. Benson darted her using Telosol. We cut the snare and applied Grabacin, a powder to keep away dirt and germs, to the wound. Then, since she was darted anyway, we took blood and other biological samples to genotype Trumain and learn about her genetics.  After all of that, we left her under a bush to recover. 

Maggie and I went to check on her later that night, and were delighted to find her walking around gnawing on a skull.

Eating after the darting.

In the days that followed we continued to keep an eye out for Trumain. It is possible to go weeks without seeing a hyena, so we knew that it was possible that she could be off at the edge of the territory recovering. But we still wanted to see her and make sure she was healing.

On March 28, we finally saw her again. Trumain looked great. She was muddy, but her wounds looked like they had begun to heal. Her right side still has a cut on it, but it didn't seem to be bleeding, and her right side looked good. These are amazing signs, and hopefully she will be able to make a full recovery, although she will have an impressive scar for a long while.

TRU on March 28, two weeks after the darting.

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