Zambia/Barotseland: Liuwa Plain NP – Spotted Hyenas

Spotted hyenas of the Liuwa Plain National Park are not like hyenas in the rest of Africa. Typically hyenas are mostly scavengers, stealing kill from big cats and eating leftovers and bone carcasses and competing with vultures. Not here! In the Liuwa, hyenas are the apex carnivore, deriving 100% of their food through primary hunting. Unlike wild dogs, hyenas don’t hunt in an organized pack, but rather a free-for-all, when a horde of hyenas takes down a wildebeest or a zebra – the hyena hunting is thus a free competitive system rather then coordinated and organized effort (kind of gangster capitalism vs command socialism). Hyena clans are matriarchal and are dominated by alpha females (who actually have more testosterone then males, are much larger then males, and completely dominate them). We saw spotted hyenas all over the Liuwa Plain, solitary and small groups, but the best was spending an entire evening at a hyena den. Little baby hyenas of all ages came out to play, one of them dragged out a wildebeest head as a tow!