Safari 2018 #18 More Lions, Petroglyphs. and a Hyena Den

by david on July 24, 2019

Time to raise up and look impressive.  Time to raise up and look impressive.

 

Relaxing in the shade. Relaxing in the shade.

 

The evening game drive was to be a visit to a spotted hyena den.  On the way there we came across a lady lion with two male suitors.  Our driver told us these lions were not from the same group we visited last night and this morning.  I wonder if that means trouble somewhere down the line as lion prides don’t like sharing territory. There was not much going on between the three of them other than the current bachelor of choice kept repositioning himself between the interloper and his lady love.  It was almost comical. Next, we ran across the solitary hippo. He was returning to his artificial waterhole after an afternoon snack. He trotted in and, in the blink of an eye, he was submerged and out of sight. With the hippo not cooperating, and it being too early to visit the hyenas, we struck out in search of plains game.  We passed by a dead elephant whose cause of demise was a mystery and managed to stay mercifully upwind. Next stop were some rock paintings. They were pretty interesting, but high up on the rock face, and would require some rather adventurous climbing maneuvers to see them up close. Not wanting to take a chance and injure myself, with two weeks of hunting in my future, I decided to stay close to ground level.  I don’t think the park would have allowed the climb anyway, but I like to think I was the smart one on this occasion.

We finally made it to the hyena den and found about two dozen youngsters playing at various distances around the den.  It reminded me of a bunch of puppies playing in the backyard. Sticks were used for tug of war, keep away, and chew toys.  Others were playing tag, chasing each other around, and in and out of the den. There were no adults around and the cubs were not straying far from the den at all.  We were told this was a communal nursery and the adults were almost never around. The cubs were actually taught to never stray from the underground den and retreat to its depths if they were threatened.  This proved true as the youngest never ventured more than 30-40 feet from the entrance. After a successful hunt the mothers would return and find their cub(s) and nurse them. Mother’s milk was all the youngsters needed until they were old enough to hunt with the pack.  I have never seen a communal nursery before and the concept of leaving their young unattended with the hyena’s arch nemesis, Panthera leo, in the area, did not make sense to me at all. It seemed to work for the hyenas, however. As we had all the pictures we wanted, we moved off for sundowners.

 Very, very old petroglyphs (paintings) Very, very old petroglyphs (paintings)

 

It is a long way up to the petroglyphs. You have to rock climb up to the upper row of grass to see them. It is a long way up to the petroglyphs. You have to rock climb up to the upper row of grass to see them.

 

 Janice, Barb, and John learning about the paintings from our guide. Janice, Barb, and John learning about the paintings from our guide.

 

 The older cubs seemed to be taking care of the younger ones. Sometimes much to their consternation The older cubs seemed to be taking care of the younger ones. Sometimes much to their consternation

 

Cute little rascals aren't they Cute little rascals aren’t they

 

Lots of playing going on Lots of playing going on

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