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Notes from the Bush: The Twilight Sinisters

Discussion of hyenas happened a lot in our group. Some thought they were hideous, others could not see why, if an African Wild/Painted Dog is considered beautiful, Hyenas are not. The hyena here is not helped by me getting him slightly out of focus.

We had two sightings, one of a lone hyena with a kill (chap above) and the other a complete surprise; two hyenas met us on the road. According to our guides,  animals treat each jeep/landcruiser as one single entity that smells of petrol, makes lots of noise, is friendly and does not threaten - as opposed to human beings, often recognised as being very dangerous indeed.But some are not fooled and these two characters were among them. Our cameras were no good in the low light;our visitors snuffled around the vehicle and looked at us and at each other very pointedly, lifting their noses, eyes glinting. The light was failing and they went on their way, but I felt an odd kind of feeling in my stomach, a quiet sense of them being trouble.


That night, I had my first ever really copious nose bleed, and  I was aware of being in a tent cubicle in the Bush, the scent of human waste easily detectable to any animal, now coupled with that of blood. I cleaned myself up and went to sleep in our tent.

Among the most wonderful things about camping in the wilds of Botswana is  the  night music. It is one of the things I actively miss, lions crooning and roaring, elephants giving it large, hippos twanging away like some sort of double bass/tuba combo...nothing is quiet. That's why early afternoon safaris are pointless; by then most of the beasties are sleeping off last night's  fiesta.That night I was woken up by a voice outside:

'YEAH! Hehehahaheheheheh!' It jeered, distorted but recogniseably human.
'YEAH!'  Hehehahahahehehehaha!' Another voice replied, again very near.

The voices didn't flutter up and down the scale;they didn't sound like cartoons, but like two very unpleasant hecklers at a live comedy show. My blood ran cold and sleep was hard to come by. Many tales link Hyenas to shape changers. I wouldn't have been surprised to hear a courteous stranger outside the tent asking me to let them in, or  to find, in the morning, our camping staff Obi and Ronald standing at the breakfast table with fixed grins and slightly furry skin around the ears and elbows. Later the chill returned to my bones when our guide told us the tale of the tall man who went camping in the bush by himself, and  decided to sleep with his head outside his tent. Humans did not find him before a hyena did.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
nyarbaggytep
Aug. 31st, 2016 08:09 pm (UTC)
I find hyenas are rather wonderful. Must be fantastic to see them for real.
smokingboot
Sep. 1st, 2016 07:32 am (UTC)
It was - even if they were the only creatures to absolutely give me the willies! But they're a lot more fluffy and better looking than people realise. Russ got better photos of them than I managed:

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