Wednesday, June 28, 2017

South hyenas are feeling rowdy...

South hyenas have been feeling rambunctious lately. Not only was there a bit of a shake-up between JAVA, the current alpha, and BLG, a lower ranking female and her cubs (see "Mean Girls"), but the whole clan has been feeling rowdy lately. 

Just the other morning we were having a relatively quiet den scene. There were a few cubs play romping while JAVA and some other adults and subadults napped. Then, like a light switch, half the hyenas were loping off across the plain, apparently having been cued into some signal unbeknownst to us. 

We arrived to see this: a hyena-jackal showdown! Apparently the hyenas had discovered a jackal den. They were bristle-tailed, forming a coalition against the jackals in order to dive their heads down into the jackal holes, most likely looking for jackal pups. 

TOBA, one of JAVA's kids, peers down into a jackal den hole while the mother jackal looks on. 

The little jackals didn't stand a chance. But luckily, the hyenas were more interested in sniffing into the den holes than harassing the parents. Above, one of the jackals yips her distress.

Jackals are pretty bold however and they got their revenge on KAPU. This jackal bit her in the butt.

KAPU looked extremely surprised at this unexpected challenge.

Luckily the jackals are much faster than hyenas.

Meanwhile, 3 adult male hyenas decided to show up to the party. However, the male hyenas didn't care about the jackals, they were more interested in JAVA. Usually we don't witness male on female aggression. Above, two males approach JAVA who "grins". Grinning (below) is usually a submissive behaviors but females will sometimes grin at male hyenas who are seeking proximity to her. This behavior, where several males gang up on a female, is called "baiting".

Above, JAVA grins and lunges at the males who quickly retreat.

Eventually, the hyenas got bored of attempting to retrieve jackal pups from the den and as JAVA didn't look ready to mate anytime soon, the males also wandered off. Good thing for the jackals, they had dug their den holes too deep and narrow even for a smallish subadult hyena to get into them. Above, the two jackals return to their den and give a good glare at us in our research vehicle.

Long story short: Several hyenas decided to go gang up on some jackals, and then in all the excitement, some male hyenas also decided to gang up on JAVA. Us researchers were left with a long transcription of behavior to code!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'll say it seems like something's gotten into South Clan! Thanks for the updates - and keep them coming!

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science