VIDEO: Eternal enemies

The sun had just appeared above the horizon as Anthony Collett, one of Tanda Tula’s experienced guides, set out on his morning safari. He had no idea that what was about to unfold before him and his guests was a story he will live to tell for the rest of his life.

The game drive started at a nearby hyena den where some young cubs had come out of their hiding holes to catch a few early morning rays of light. At six weeks old, the cubs are still small,  and unusually there are no adult hyenas on standby. Suddenly, from out of some bushes rushed two female lionesses and promptly raided the den. The one female managed to grab one of the tiny hyena cubs by the scruff of the neck and almost breaks its back instantaneously.

At this exact moment, truly showing the power of a mother’s instinct, a female hyena arrived on the scene. She whooped and called frantically, biting the lions and trying to chase them off, drawing their attention away from the cubs and onto herself. The lioness promptly dropped the cub and skulked to the side. The poor cub, not in a great way, managed to drag itself, using its front legs, into the safety of its den once again.

The commotion and frantic calling of the upset mother hyena soon brought in the cavalry and before the lionesses knew what had happened they were surrounded by sixteen angry and aggressive hyenas. Doing what is known as a parallel walk, an aggressive advance on the lionesses, they circled the two culprits, keeping close by and so creating havoc and fear in the hearts of the recently brave lionesses.

The lionesses, who know they are outnumbered, lay in a reverse parallel position, keeping an eye in all directions. They growled and roared, trying to appear less afraid than they really were. After an hour, the lions managed to submissively sneak away, but not after being absolutely traumatized. The lions know that the hyenas are the apex predators in the Timbavati at the moment and they have to be submissive and show respect.

The lions survived this encounter, whether the hyena cub will make it we do not know for sure, but it just goes to show that the conflict and hatred these two predators have towards one another will always remain strong, fighting for territory, food and domination of the land.


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