Have a Cow

Last night at the hyena place, a pickup arrived and parked bang in the middle of the hyenas, who scattered in all directions. Some boys jumped down from the back and dropped the tailgate and then dragged a dead cow from the back of the pickup. A sizeable beast of several hundred kilos to be certain. The hyenas seemed to know what was happening and showed a great deal of interest forming a semi circle on the far side of the cow. Abbas and the boys dragged it across in front of the headlights of a car that was already there and then let the hyenas have at it. I was expecting chaos, but what ensued was pretty disciplined. The hyenas went at the rear and belly of the cow, probably because these bits were farthest from the human spectators, and though they were aggressively consuming the cow there was no fighting or noise. I noticed that the big girls, Dibbey, Koti and company, were not present and were probably at the garbage dump a kilometre away. So I was wondering if the hyenas that were there, including Bebe, Jalla and Willi, were keeping it low key so as not to let on to the bigger hyenas at the dump know that there was some quality food on offer. It wasn’t long before much of the stomach was gone and I have to say Bebe manages to look cute even when she’s up to her tail inside of a dead cow. When she tried to reverse her way out and had the skin draped over her head she looked like a kid in a bed-sheet pretending to be a ghost. Willi seemed new to this kind of feeding and didn’t quite know how to behave. He clambered over the cow looking for a position to feed from and eventually found himself inside the stomach with Bebe. The discipline soon broke down however and one hyena was persecuted by another to give up its piece of cow. This hyena went to the hill and started owooping in the same sort of way that I’ve seen other hyenas do it when they’ve just been harassed off some food. Certainly the big girls at the dump must have heard it and I’m guessing they understood it. Because not a minute afterwards, Tukwondilli appeared and I figured he had come from wherever it was that Dibbey was looking for food. Sure enough Dibbey came soon after and Koti and then Deraltu and once these girls got stuck into it, the noise and the squabbling increased markedly. As usual Dibbey took offence at Tukwondilli getting as much as a piece of skin and chased him off, biting at his rump as he scarpered with his tail between his legs. Tukwondilli was yelping at this, one of the rare times that Dibbey actually pressed home an attack. He too went to the hill and started oowooping. Then the hyenas dragged what was left of the front of the cow into the ditch so that all that could be seen were the tops of the backs of about eight hyenas, just over the edge of the ditch. Bebe and Jalla had eaten a lot prior to this and were noticeably fatter and were not so interested in the carcass any more. Eventually the head was gone and little remained so that it took the few remaining hyenas a while to clean up the bits and pieces. But it sure is remarkable to witness a cow completely disappearing in less than 50 minutes when the most hyenas feeding from it at one time numbered less than 10. No wonder they have a reputation for being gluttons.

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