The more you spend time with hyenas, the more you will get to like them. Honestly, they are unfortunately often one of the most ‘disliked animals’ of Africa, as they are often falsely portrayed as being cowardly scavengers. Although this is partly true, there is a lot more depth to them than meets the eye.

Late one morning on our way back to camp, we spotted a column of vultures circling in the air. Heading out to see what it was all about, we found a pair of hyena with a nearly complete puku antelope carcass that they were trying desperately to hide from the ever growing numbers of vultures that were starting to surround them. The previous morning, we had seen a leopard in this area and so, in theory, we imagined that it was possible that she had killed the puku and the hyena had taken it from her.

The one hyena seemed bent on hiding the carcass under the muddy waters, but it was too buoyant. Each time she attempted to hide it, the carcass would float up and remain visible, just what she didn’t want! The second hyena seemed more afraid of what may surprise them, no doubt worrying about all the scattered male lions that we had been encountering in the area. Lions much the same as us, will also follow vultures, knowing that there may well be a carcass available for them to steal. While this didn’t happen when we were with the hyena, we did enjoy watching the almost frustrated expression on the hyena’s face each time she tried to bury the carcass, but had no luck. Eventually deciding that submerging the carcass wasn’t an option, she dragged the antelope out of the water and past our vehicle, choosing a well-worn hippo path as her way out of the riverbed and into the relative safety of the islands thick vegetation.

Pulling the carcass by the legs, then by the head and finally figuring out that if she pulled it head first it was easier to get through the narrow gap in the river bank and onto the island. We saw as she disappeared with her well-earned meal. This scene revealed just how much effort these animals endure to get a meal and more importantly, keeping it once they have it, when there always seems to be something bigger and stronger waiting to take it away from them.