SOUTH AFRICA - MALA MALA GAME RESERVE - HYENA'S ON THE SCENT OF A KILL
I have always thought the hyena a rather noble beast and much too maligned, like their distant brethren the wolf. They do have their place in the order things, they are like garbage men they keep the place tidy. Without them we would be up too our necks in a mess.
The hyena is also a fierce competitor alone or in packs. Everything gives them a very wide birth including big cats. I have seen them chase lions and leopards off of a kill. Their massive jaws and teeth make them very well respected in the animal kingdom. Their ability to crush bone with their jaws is without comparison, in packs they are challenged by nothing.
I have many excellent images of the hyena, but this one is by far and away the best of them and is one of my favorites. Many who have viewed it find within a new appreciation for this beast. Their nobility and handsome stature truly shines thorough in this image. It was just one of those magic moments you hope for when everything comes together in front of your lens, I am sure you know what I mean.
This pair had just picked up on the scent of a leopard kill. They were just ahead of their pack. We had spent the hour at this kill shooting a mother leopard and her two cubs. This little lady weighing in at one hundred pounds had just brought down a Kudu three times her size. Very unusual for leopards they normally go for smaller antelopes such as the Impala.
This allows them to carry the entire carcass up in a tree to dine at leisure with out being disturbed by other predators. The Kudu was so big the little leopard lady could not drag it more than an inch at a time. She was so exhausted from the effort of bringing the down Kudu, she spent half an hour lying next to it panting.
The Kudu had been grazing in tall brown grass, the leopard was nearby crouched as still as a statue, blending with shadow and light. The Kudu had not picked up her scent. As the Kudu moved to graze it stepped right over the leopard. The ensuing ten minutes was nothing but a ball of flying fur and blurred spots, till the Kudu succumbed to the grip of the leopards jaws on its throat.
When we were departing the kill we spotted the hyena’s and followed them back to mom and her cubs. They had only just started to feed on her hard won rewards. The hyena’s of course chased all three up in the trees and took over the kill. One of the shots in my folio is one of the cubs, see leopard in tree.
All in all it was an amazing three hours spent in rapt attention watching this drama unfold. To my good fortune I was able to come away from that afternoon with some incredible images.