Cackle of hyenas on auction
Provincial and private game reserves will be able to bid on five spotted hyena from Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) which will be up for auction at this year’s Kirkwood Wildsfees Game Auction on Friday 28 June.
Park Manager, Nick de Goede, says the decision to make hyena available this year is because the Park is reaching its threshold of potential concern and would like to be pro-active in reducing their numbers. It is estimated that there are about 40 animals in the main game viewing area of the Park.
“This will most likely not be an annual donation,” says de Goede. “We simply want to test the market and if viable, we will consider it again in the future when needed,” he says.
Visitors to Addo are likely to see them in the early mornings as they make their way home to two dens between the Rooidam turnoff and the Rooidam water hole. While there have been sightings at other waterholes during the day, these are rare. Guided morning game drives, starting at 6AM and 7AM respectively in winter and summer, are recommended. Night drives are another option.
Eight spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) were reintroduced into AENP in 2003 – after having been shot out over 100 years ago.
Spotted hyenas are quite vocal and make a wide variety of sounds, including the “laughing” that has long been associated with their name – as they are also known as the “laughing hyena”.
The animals were reintroduced to the Park to fulfil the same role as lions in restoring the natural balance to the ecosystems by controlling the numbers of herbivores.
It is a common misconception that spotted hyenas only scavenge off other predators’ kills. In fact, they make most of their own kills and will only scavenge or steal other predators’ fresh kills if the opportunity arises. Lions and spotted hyenas will harass and even kill each other in certain situations, all depending on the relative numbers of each species.
These dog-like animals are incredibly intelligent. Hyenas have very strong jaws and are able to crush and eat bone, making them very efficient recyclers of nutrients in the ecosystem. Spotted hyenas live in a matriarchal system, with females being larger and more dominant than males.
Spotted hyenas are the largest of three hyena species. Hyenas appear very similar to dogs, though more closely related to cats. Spotted hyenas live together in large groups called clans that may include up 80 individuals and are led by females.
They have good hearing and sharp eyesight at night. Hyenas are fast and can run for long distances without tiring. Packs work together effectively to isolate a herd animal, sometimes one that is ill or infirm, and pursue it to the death. The victors often squabble over the spoils, either among themselves or with other powerful animals like lions.