Hyena’s favourite things

This cutie is a recent addition to the clan. The hyena man hasn’t given her a name yet because she hasn’t come to feed, but boy is she tame. Last week, I was sitting on the hill watching the other hyenas going about their business, when I saw a cub coming towards me. Usually, unfamiliar hyenas don’t notice me until they get close, at which point they do a double take and bolt. But this cub was looking straight at me and nonchalantly walked past as if I was a garden ornament. She snooped around the hyena man’s compound for a bit and then went and had a lie-down on the hill and this is where I took the photo. I’ve christened her ‘Nameless Joe’ which will serve until she’s given her Oromo name.

Hyenas love shoulder blades. Among bones, shoulder-blades and ribs are the choice bits but shoulder-blades are a delicacy. Hyenas will select ribs and eat them on the spot, putting one end between their paws and eating the rib down to the ground, but shoulder-blades, they run off with to a secluded spot where they can eat them undisturbed. Bebe was particularly expert at securing these bones and I can still picture her, running off with a shoulder-blade almost as big as herself, held cross-wise in her mouth.

Last night Dibbey procured one of these delicacies and trotted off with it to the side of the library compound where she began to reduce it; Tukwondilli dutifully looking on from a few metres away. I paid no more attention until I heard some squealing coming from that direction. I went over to investigate and, there in the light of my torch, was Dibbey being harassed by Hadha Kumar and her cub: Fintamuree (They’re pictured together in a previous post). What a sight to see this normally raging, aggressive female, shuffling along with her bottom scraping the ground, whining like a cub but refusing to let go of the shoulder blade, while the two persecutors with their tails erect drove her along with their chins on her back. Hadha Kumar and Fintamuree persisted for a while and then lay off Dibbey who took the blade back to where she was consuming it before. Peace was restored. But then Kooti (the top-dog hyena) came trotting around from the hill with her head up and looking directly at Dibbey. It was as though someone had sent a message that Dibbey had a shoulder-blade and was eating it right by the library compound. Kooti made a bee-line for Dibbey and was immediately joined by Hadha Kumar, Fintamuree and – of all hyenas – Nameless Joe. They began driving Dibbey around, this time without the bone in her mouth, and it was pretty cute to see the little cub with her tail erect, straining to get her chin on Dibbey’s back. So after many groans from the persecutors and whines from the persecuted in this bizarre hyena ritual, the protagonists dispersed and went their separate ways. Meanwhile Tukwondilli had disappeared and so had the tasty shoulder-blade.


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