We heard the hyenas last night, yelping like hungry children. Of all of Africa’s wildlife, I think the hyenas are the most universally despised. Although they no doubt play their role in the balance of life, know one seems to have anything positive to say about them. They are just gangs of teeth – jaws with legs and fur – landed barracuda. Their furious behavior is notorious. Sibling will kill each for dominance, even at a young age when they should be cuddling. Somehow, God forgot about the hyena, or, more likely, evolution figured out that there is a role for the unmerciful. Even lions are not free of their prowl and pester.
We were having dinner at the main camp with local chiefs when we heard it. One chief said that call means there are lions near by. Interesting. There is not just one type of hyena call, but, logically enough, many. The hyena antagonism with lions is well known, and, according to this chief, the sound we heard was the hyena cry of lion warning. It is their audible code that the rival gang is present – nature’s own West Side Story in the bush.