The rivalry over territory can become an ugly one at times. And, when wild animals clash, you can be sure that there are never two winners, there will always be one between the two that pulls the shortest straw.
This was the case when Vicky Stephenson, a 29-year-old field guide and camp manager, heard strange hyena calls from their camp in Ingwelala, in the Greater Kruger National Park this past December. It seemed like it was coming from the riverbed.
A vicious struggle between hyenas
According to Latest Sightings, Vicky said that they heard the strange hyena calls, and they quickly headed off to find out what was going on.
“Two hyenas were in the river – battling it out! One was the dominant and the other one trying to retreat. We were all shocked as it was the first time any of us had seen such a vicious struggle between hyenas. It was harsh to watch as the hyena being struck was already badly wounded and looked exhausted and in pain. We felt obligated to watch though, as this was fascinating, especially being a field guide and never having seen something like this before.”
After about two hours of on and off fighting, they saw the original dominant and two other hyenas heading down the road towards the injured hyena, and at that stage, the group knew that the hyena would not survive the last fight, so they decided to leave it in peace.
“We sent our footage through to a hyena expert to find out what they thought could have been the reason for such a battle. She explained that the four hyenas involved were all males. The young hyena (she could tell by the teeth) being pushed had probably recently left his clan to find another clan to join, as males will do to ensure genetic variation.
“The three males of this territory weren’t happy about it, which is something that happens from time to time.”
Vicky said that this was the worst hyena encounter she’s ever seen.
“Usually, you get the normal scuffle at food, but never an intense ongoing battle like this one. Even though it’s never pleasant watching any animal in distress, it is nature, which always has a purpose, and if you can stomach it – it’s a sighting you will never forget and probably never get to watch again! So take as much video and photos as possible, because it could be educational to others.”
Watch: Hyena vs hyena in the Kruger National Park