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.
He had cached these under the water to hide the scent. No other hyena would then find and steal them.
Trying to locate the horns
I know it’s here somewhere?
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.
First stop, Serengeti!
The Caravan banked and turned at last, curving down towards the tiny strip, a smudge on the sketchy green of the plains, just inside the sinuous curves of the Grumeti river silver and smooth, that winds its’ way across this part of the Serengeti. The two Singaporean families who were my guests on this trip chattered excitedly in Hokin and English as I pointed out animals, and suddenly the dark ‘dots’ took form. ‘Gavin, Gavin….THESE are wildebeest??………….’ A dark mass of animals walked along the edge of the river, some of the herd rested amongst the scattered flat topped acacias, like carelessly scattered toys. The dark ‘cloud’ of moving creatures represented for me one of the earth’s most unique and wonderful spectacles.
They had traveled across half the world to see this…the annual migration in the Serengeti.
A tiny percentage of the population feeding quietly in northern Serengeti
The bulk of the herd had moved on ten days previously, but there were still A LOT of White-bearded gnu, as they are correctly named. Thousands upon thousands of these bovids still remained…the vanguard of the million or so that perennially make this trek across the plains. The pilot grinned to himself. He had heard this excitement many times as flew travellers in to the bush strips at various points of entry in the Serengeti, and still he smiled…excitement of this nature is infectious! Read more…