As you know from the previous post, the BBC were recently in Harar filming the hyenas for the One Planet series. In addition to the three way clan war and the goings on at the Sofi feeding place (which is now halfway to the garbage dump), the producer noticed some interesting things at the main market. One was this old clapped out female who went nightly to the main market looking for food. Apparently all the Aboker hyenas deferred to her as if she was the queen of the hyenas but she was never once at the Aboker feeding place. I doubt she was foregoing the feeding place in favour of the market because the feeding kicks off at 6pm while the hyenas don’t normally hit the market until about 10pm due to the crowds. So I wish I could find out more about this hyena-queen. The other bit of information, and this is even more fascinating, is that the producer thinks that a hyena had some cubs in a niche inside the Old Town. He saw the female entering the niche and on passing by, he heard what he thought was cubs, but didn’t stop to look because he didn’t want to draw attention to the place – for obvious reasons. This is really interesting because crowds of people pass by that spot daily, and some throw rubbish into the niche, so it would take a lot of nerve for a hyena and her cubs to stay there. I’m guessing/hoping that by now that they’ve moved house and established a den outside the town where the other Abokers have theirs. Otherwise you can add to the permanent population of Harar, one female hyena and her cubs living in a magical hole where food flies in through the entrance daily.
After a conspicuous absence, Koti is back! The dominant female of the Sofi clan has been missing each time that the Aboker hyenas have raided the Sofi feeding place. It’s almost like she feels she doesn’t have enough support from the troops to be able face up to the invaders (and no apologies for using warfare terminology here). This is unsurprising considering the way that those eight Sofi hyenas turned and ran at the appearance of two Aboker hyenas. If Koti was there she would have either had to face up to the Aboker hyenas alone or run off with the others. Or maybe if Koti was there, her underlings would have felt a bit more obligation to stand and fight.
Regardless, she caused a bit of a stir when she showed up at the feeding place the other night. The night began quietly. Jaagi was the only hyena present and the tourists looking on were a bit disappointed. Jaagi was nervous and too afraid to come and take food so Yusuf simply threw the odd scrap in her direction. Then from the direction of the cemetery, an Aboker hyena arrived. Jaagi went across to this individual, sniffed his muzzle and then bolted towards the forest leaving the Aboker hyena to himself. He was king of the feeding place but not for long. Three hyenas arrived, including Willi II and Gurba and the Aboker hyena went into submissive mode. He held back while the other three gave the tourists some excitement; jumping up to take the food Yusuf was holding aloft.
That was when Koti arrived with her entourage. Willi II and Gurba made way for the big female who was really worked up. But she wasn’t so much interested in feeding as she was in rousing the other hyenas. Growling and groaning and with her tail up, she marched around the place with a gaggle of followers all getting very excited. Meanwhile the Aboker hyena had absented himself and I saw him heading up the road towards Aboker territory. I really did think that Koti was going to enlist a bunch of hyenas and take them up the road to the Aboker territory for a settling of scores with the Aboker hyenas. But then, Harar is a funny place and there’s always an extra ingredient thrown into the mix:
While I was on the road watching the Aboker hyena leaving, an Oromo woman came walking down the road and into the Sofi feeding place, muttering to herself. Once at the feeding place, she began shouting at the Sofi hyenas in Oromo. While Koti and her entourage swarmed over to the grassy hill, very much absorbed in their own excitement, The Oromo woman followed after them shouting as she went. She was calling out that she’d done something bad – she’d been unfaithful – but that she wasn’t ashamed. Still, she expected that people would judge and insult her for what she’d done so she had come to the hyenas for help. She yelled out, ‘Hyenas! I want you to attack the people who judge and insult me. Attack them and their children!’ Meanwhile Koti and her followers looked for all the world like they were ready to. The hyenas were heading up the hill behind the feeding place in single file and the woman called after them, ‘Go, you soldiers. Go and attack my enemies’, and before long the hyenas had gone. The night had transmogrified from interesting to bizarre.