An African hyena

Facts about Hyenas

What do you know about Hyenas?

Hyenas live in many parts of Kenya.  You can spot them in the forest, woodland, savannah, grassland and in mountainous regions. This carnivorous animal is one of the misunderstood species in the wild. Even in African folklore, the hyena gets demeaning characters and it is often times associated with greed and cowardice. Hyenas have strange laughter and calls that travel for miles. These sounds are used to signal danger, show excitement or call the clan when a hyena finds food.  At times, hyenas can prey their own, so females must protect their cubs when that happens.

When you look at hyenas, it is impossible to differentiate male from female hyenas because they do not have clearly defined sexes and though most people allege that hyenas can change their sex as they please, it is not true. To mark territories, hyenas use droppings as well as a substance secreted by their anal glands. Additionally, the clan excretes in a particular spot and this forms a territorial mark made of droppings. Hyenas may be scavengers but they sure do know how to pick the best food and stay away from bones. They eat all manner of things from calves to domestic animals, hyenas, vegetation and excrement of other animals. They prey at night and once a clan attacks, little is left to show that something actually take place. They may live behind hair and hooves but the strong jaws devour the rest easily.

Understanding facts about hyenas can clarify the types found in Kenya, and ways of differentiating them. Kenya is home to two types that are the spotted and the striped hyena.

Spotted Hyena

The female spotted hyena dominates over the male and weighs more too. This species inhabits the grassland, savannah, forests and mountain regions. Spotted hyenas live in clans on high land where they can see other clans that may want to intrude.  They trespass into homesteads and carry away domestic animals. This has been a reason for constant conflicts with humans.

Striped Hyena

This type of hyena is rare, and more elusive than the spotted species. The stripped hyena hunts from dusk to midnight and rests for a while before going out again in search of food until the wee hours of the morning. This animal prefers to hunt alone and it loves tearing down carcasses of zebras and wildebeests.  Striped hyenas are social and they do not fight with humans.

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Profile photo of Betsy Muriithi
on Mar 11, 2014

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