I was driving through the Ngorongoro Crater on my last safari, when we chanced upon nine Spotted hyenas sleeping in the open near a large natural pan. We paused to observe their comatose forms and I chatted a little about hyena behavior and biology… Eventually one male hyena (they are generally noticeably smaller than the females) stood up and deliberately walked straight into the pan, head slightly lowered, ears forward. I told my guests,” He is looking for something…”
The hyena paused and looked straight down into the water. He seemed to think about something, and then plunged his head straight into the water, over his ears! He shook his head, walked a bit and tried again.and came up with a pair of wildebeest horns! He walked into deeper water and disaster…he dropped them. Nonplussed he stuck his head under the water again, and again…even using his paw to try and find them.
I believe we may have distracted him with our burst of amused laughter….he looked our way for a minute or so…and then bent down to find his grisly trophy. His whole head was under the water for about five seconds or so. He lifted his head….water cascading down his face. What a sight! Another hyena walked into the water, and stood just looking at him, a quizzical expression on its’ face. It was just too much not to imagine what was being said… The ‘searcher’ tried again, an again…….used his paw…….stood for a moment looking deep into the water and walked away.