Spotted Hyena [Crocuta crocuta]
The Spotted Hyena is one of the Kruger National Park’s most iconic animals that is known for being a scavenger but is actually a successful hunter. The Spotted hyena has a haunch that give it a menacing appearance. It has a thick coat that is light brown in colour with black spots all over. It has large round ears that that aid in hearing. It has a bushy mane that runs from its head down its back. The females of the species is die dominant gender, being larger than the males, standing at 800mm and weighing up to 60kg.
The Spotted Hyena is one of/ if not the most effective carnivore in South Africa. It has always been described as only a cowardly scavenger that only feeds on carcasses from animals which isn’t the case. The Spotted Hyena can take down large prey such as Buffalo, Wildebeest, Eland, Gemsbok and Zebra rather easily and effectively. They have also been known to scare lions away from their kill and claim it for themselves.
Hyenas give birth to 1-2 young, after a gestation period of 4 months. They are non seasonal breeders. Cubs are not weaned for 12-16 months as the cubs receive enough nourishment from their mother’s milk. Cubs are raised in a communal den and is protected by selected members of the pack. Males have no paternal role as very few are allowed near the dens. Spotted Hyenas are rather rare but can be spotted during a Kruger Park Safari.
Spotted Hyenas are nocturnal hunters which stay in the thick bush or deserted Aardvark burrows. Hyenas live in clans that defend their territory from other clans that want to invade.