Friday, October 21, 2016

What do north clan hyenas, south clan hyenas, and a lioness have in common?


Yesterday was a pretty exciting morning. It started off quiet; we went to the South clan’s den where we saw Java, south clan’s matriarch nursing one of her cubs. Toledo, south’s alpha male was also resting close to the den. There was one other subby looking hyena wandering around that it took us a little bit to ID, but I soon recognized him as Lunch Lady, a young male hyena from North clan. We’ve never seen him in South clan before, but the way he was chilling with Java and Toledo made it look like he was already well accepted. Lunch Lady is part of the "professions" lineage; his mother is Sherman. 

Lunch Lady, a beautiful young male hyena.
Male hyenas almost always disperse from their natal clan between the ages of 3 and 5 and join a new clan in search of mating opportunities. It usually takes some period of time before they’re fully accepted by the hyenas in their new clan and they’ll join as the lowest ranking hyena. I’ve known Lunch Lady since he was a little cub in North clan chewing on the car, so it was really exciting to see that he’s most likely joined South clan.
Lunch Lady when he was a little cub chewing on my back pack strap that was accidentally sticking out of the car door.

As it started to get light out, Lunch Lady started to wander away from the den. We followed him and gave him some inhibitory control cylinder trials and some multi-access box trials on which he did great! Lunch lady is now the fourth hyena in Serena to open up the box. Interestingly, he used the push flap by pawing at the box with his front paws. He’s the first wild hyena to use this solution!
Lunch Lady solving the multi-access box while Toledo looks on. Toledo was too afraid to come close!  
After doing trials with Lunch Lady we did a prey transect and then drove through North territory to get back to camp… that’s when we saw a mob of hyenas that we quickly recognized as South hyenas just inside of the North territory boundary! This group included Lunch Lady as well as natal South animals Palazzo, Nali, Star, and Seabiscuit. We followed these guys to a zebra carcass that North hyenas were chowing down on. Two other south immigrant males, Strummer and Slim were also born in North clan and were seen feeding with North clan despite being well accepted into South clan. 
Slim, a South immigrant male who was born in North, excitedly approaches the zebra carcass with a few other South hyenas.

Slim (left cub) when he was a cub nursing form his mom Ink with his brother Dalt (right).

Nali, a natal south hyena, eagerly looks at the zebra carcass. 
Strummer, a South hyena who was born in North, feeds on the carcass with other North hyenas.

Oakridge, an immigrant male in North clan, is covered in blood as he feeds on the zebra carcass.
This was a clan war over the zebra carcass!! Two South hyenas, Taylorsville and Onekama were extremely drenched in blood which made Mike and I think that they killed it and North clan had run them off it. Clearly, Taylorsville and Onekama had called in reinforcements because more and more South hyenas were showing up by the minute! South clan charged the carcass causing the North hyenas (Oakridge, Ypsi, MrsB, and Kath) to scatter.

Taylorsville's face was black with blood. Maybe he killed the zebra?
Taylorsville, a South immigrant male, faces off against Ypsi, a North immigrant male.
This South hyena was literally foaming at the mouth.

When South clan charged the carcass to take it back from the North hyenas, Slim, with the help of Onekama, ran off with a zebra leg. A few minutes later, Strummer ran off with a second zebra leg. All three of these South immigrant males retreated into South territory while the rest of South clan beings to feed from the carcass.

Strummer running off with a chunk of zebra leg.

Strummer when he was a cub chewing on a tourist vehicle.

Interestingly, Lunch Lady was not allowed to feed at the carcass despite his good relations with Java and Toledo at the den. Lunch Lady actually seemed quite confused about which hyenas were supposed to be his friends and which his enemies and attempted to socialize with both South and North hyenas. Immigrating to a new clan can be confusing! A male hyena has to learn the identities and ranks of a brand new clan of hyenas which can number from 30 to over 100 individuals!

Lady (left) making a goofy face while he feeds on the carcass with North hyenas.
Anyway, South hyenas started devouring the carcass when… a lioness explodes out of the thicket growling and sends South hyenas scampering for their lives. She takes one look around, decides there are WAY too many hyenas for her to deal with and promptly walks back into the thicket. Now this is not only a clan war, but a lion-hyena interaction!

Video of lioness charging (my apologies for cutting the audio, there was some inappropriate language due to surprise from myself and Mike).

Some rangers that we talked to after the session said that she might be the lioness who has some babies in the area. We didn’t get a good look at this one, but we did see a heavily lactating female a few days ago.

Lactating lioness. 
South hyenas retained the carcass after the lioness retreated, but five minutes later North rallies and chases them off the carcass again. At this point there were about 4 North hyenas and 7 South hyenas (including Lunch Lady as a South hyena). By this point the South hyenas seemed pretty full and they did not try to take the carcass again. Interestingly, Lunch Lady continued to feed with the North hyenas and when they finished eating he followed Ypsi back into North territory. It seems like he’s not completely part of South clan yet and is still associating with members of his natal clan!

North hyenas feeding on the carcass.

1 comment:

dee said...

Great post, what an exciting day for you all! Thanks for sharing.

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