Steph Dloniak, from the Masai Mara hyena research project in Kenya, was visiting us in Harar this week and meeting up with the hyenas. Steph’s work involves a lot of collecting hard data about such things as social ranking, hormones, sex differences and so forth in the Talek clan in the Masai Mara and involves a lot of vehicles, darting, radio collars and chemical analysis. It’s a bit different to following them through narrow streets on foot and watching them disappear down drain holes.
So we spent a few nights at the hyena man’s house and on the hyena hill as well as one morning at the sportsground and one morning at the dump. Not exactly a tourist attraction but great for seeing hyenas.
Differences that Steph has noticed in Harar’s hyenas? They’re better fed so there are no skinny ones and the sub-adults are more playful because they’re not conserving energy; and they don’t attack people. Steph is also amazed at the Harari’s tolerance of hyenas here that verges on affection. This is so different to what you find in Kenya where people absolutely hate hyenas and kill them at any opportunity. It’s also dangerous to be out at night in Kenya and to sleep out, like people do in Harar, is just asking to have your head bitten off.


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