Thursday, June 7, 2018

Pole baby

WARNING: Sad/graphic images are included in this post!

Last week, we were driving to the den like any other morning. We came across some hyenas in the middle of the main road. This is not that abnormal, especially when there is long grass. Hyenas will often gravitate towards bare patches to avoid bugs (flies, ticks etc) and roads are the perfect place to do so.

With a closer look, we saw that these three were Gelato, and her newest cubs. Treat Street, her most recent cub, was nursing, and another cub was sacked out several meters away. Right away, we thought something was wrong, since this cub was more likely than not a sibling of the cub nursing, and it is relatively rare that one cub will nurse and the other will not when a mom is alone with her cubs like this. We then noticed that there appeared to be blood around the cubs nose. Then, when several cars passed us and this cub did not immediately run after Gelato and Treat Street, we realized that this cub was likely not able to.


The most likely scenario, was that this cub was hit by a car. When it did move off the road, it was barely able to get up to the shoulder before it stopped. It was very clearly in alot of pain and was having trouble breathing. We attempted to call some of the mobile vet units we know, but were not able to get through to any of them. We ended up driving to the nearby gate and alerting the rangers there, who also tried to get the vets on the line.

We ended up driving around in the area, so we were close and could keep checking in on it. Eventually we were able to get in touch with a vet, and while he left immediately, the cub had died about 10 minutes before he arrived.

When we inspected the body, the belly was very swollen and there was a lot of blood coming out of the nose. While there were no visible wounds, we expected massive internal bleeding. Even if the vet had been able to arrive sooner there was likely nothing it could do.

Normally when we have a dead hyena, we bring it home to do a basic necropsy. We also remove the head so we are able to save the skull. This morning, however, we were instructed by the rangers to leave the hyena where it was, with the hopes that the rangers would be able to find the hot air balloon company car (the suspected culprit) and show them the consequences of driving too fast. The casualty has been reported to park management, and hopefully those responsible will be found.

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