hyena rivalry over territory can turn ugly at times. And, when wild animals collide, you can be sure there are never two winners.
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Vicky Stephenson, field guide and camp manager, heard strange hyena calls from her camp at Ingwelala, Greater Kruger National Park, coming from the river bed.
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Latestsightings.com asked him to explain the events of that day.
“When we heard the strange hyena calls, we quickly headed over to find out what was going on. Two hyenas were in the river, fighting! One was dominant and the other was trying to retreat.
“We were all shocked as it was the first time any of us had seen such a fierce fight between hyenas. It was hard to see that the beaten hyena was already badly injured and looked exhausted and in pain. However, we felt compelled to watch as this was fascinating, especially being a field guide and never seen anything like it before, not pretty to look at though.
“After about 2 hours of on-and-off fighting, we saw the original dominant and 2 other hyenas making their way down the path towards the injured hyena, and at that point, we knew the hyena wouldn’t survive the last fight, so we decided to leave it alone. . We found out later in the office that the hyenas had killed the hyena after we left.
“We sent our footage to a hyena expert to find out what they thought might have been the reason for such a battle. He explained that the 4 hyenas involved were all male. The young hyena (she could tell by the teeth) being pushed had probably left her clan recently to find another clan to join, as males do to ensure genetic variation. The 3 males in this territory were not happy about it, which is something that happens from time to time.
“This was the worst hyena encounter I have ever seen. You usually get the normal food fight, but never an intense, ongoing battle like this. Although it is never pleasant to see an animal in distress, it is nature, which always has a purpose, and if you can bear it, it is a sighting you will never forget and probably never see again! So please take as many videos and photos as possible, because it could be educational for others.”