On the second night after the incident with the poisoned hyena there was some commotion on the hill; hyenas were growling and there was a lot of activity. Tails were sticking up everywhere, which is a sign of a high state of arousal, usually displayed by hyenas in disputes over food, in mobbing females, hunting and sorting out their social order. Then two hyenas, making very low groans, passed me in the darkness and ran up the road towards Argobberi. Some other hyenas had gone around to the road via the other side of the hyena man’s house and were heading in the same direction. I ran after them and by the time I was half way up the road I saw Deraltu running back towards me. She ran on past me, followed by two others and then just a few metres ahead I saw Dibbey and Belitti standing beside the road looking towards Argobberi. Belitti is a juvenile, about the same age as Bebe and similar in appearance so that I often confuse the two, but she is very high ranking and is probably the offspring of Dibbey or Deraltu. I stopped and listened and heard some hyenas at the top of the hill. I was curious because I’d figured that all the hyenas who had previously run up the hill, had run back down or were standing right in front of me. Then Deraltu went running back up the hill, followed by Dibbey, Belitti and several others. I ran after them and ahead under the streetlights I could see the silhouettes of six large hyenas in the middle of the road. Interestingly the road, which is normally crowded with people, was deserted and there were people standing outside their shops and houses watching what was going on. What exactly was going on, was a clan war. The Assumberi hyenas has come via the road outside the old town and were on the boundary of the Suqutatberi hyena’s territory.
Seven Suqutatberi hyenas – including Dibbey and Belitti – ran up as a group and stopped about 5 metres short of where the Assumberi hyenas were standing and there was a tremendous din. Tails were erect and the hyenas were very excited, making aggressive lunges and kicking up a huge amount of dust so that all that could be seen under the streetlight were dark silhouettes moving about. Certainly it was preferable to be an observer, rather than a participant and people were shouting at me to get off the road, worried that I’d be caught up in it all. Then, without any contact, the Suqutatberi hyenas came running back past me (it’s quite an experience, an 80kg hyena growling as it charges towards you) and they made their way back to the hyena feeding place. The Assumberi hyenas turned and trotted back in the direction of the Assumberi gate and, growling as they went, disappeared into the darkness. The significant aspect of this incident is that the patch of road that stood between the two hyena clans in this dispute is the exact spot where I found the poisoned hyena dying. I’m now convinced it was from the other clan.