How to face a hyena

How to face a hyena – Hyenas, often misunderstood and unfairly portrayed, are fascinating creatures with unique qualities that set them apart in the animal kingdom. These highly adaptive mammals belong to the family Hyaenidae and are primarily found in Africa and some parts of Asia. Contrary to popular belief, hyenas are not just scavengers; they are skilled hunters with powerful jaws and incredible endurance.

Physical Characteristics and Behavior

Known for their distinct appearance, hyenas have a robust build, strong jaws, and a hunched back. The most recognized species are the spotted hyena, brown hyena, and striped hyena. The spotted hyena, with its distinctive spotted coat and powerful build, is often considered the most social and vocal of the three. Hyenas are known for their distinctive vocalizations, including eerie laughs that contribute to their reputation as creatures of the night.

Social Structure and Intelligence

Hyenas exhibit a complex social structure dominated by a matriarchal hierarchy. The female, larger and more dominant than the male, plays a crucial role in maintaining order within the clan. These clans can consist of up to 80 individuals, showcasing a sophisticated level of social organization. Hyenas are also known for their intelligence, problem-solving skills, and intricate communication through vocalizations, body language, and even scent marking.

Hunting and Scavenging Strategies

Contrary to their scavenger stereotype, hyenas are proficient hunters. They possess powerful jaws and a bone-crushing bite, allowing them to take down large prey such as wildebeests and zebras. Their scavenging tendencies come into play when they capitalize on opportunities, scavenging from the kills of larger predators or feeding on carrion. The spotted hyena, in particular, is an adept and relentless hunter, capable of taking down prey both alone and in coordinated group efforts.

How to avoid hyenas from hurting or attacking you?


Below are the ways of how to communicate to hyenas. If you find or meet them, do not run away, they may get you, just stop and communicate to them/talk to them.

  1. Halt: Avoid running, as sudden movements may trigger the hyena’s predatory instincts.
  2. Avoid Lying Down: Pretending to be dead can pique the hyena’s curiosity, so it’s advisable not to lie down. Hyenas like eating dead things, so seeing you down will make them see you as food to them.
  3. Stay Calm: Maintain composure and refrain from displaying fear. Engage with the hyena calmly by speaking to it.
  4. Nighttime Caution: Exercise extra caution when moving during the night, as hyenas are nocturnal creatures.
  5. Face the Hyena: Do not turn away until the hyena does. Maintain eye contact and face its direction.
  6. Stand Firm: In the event of growling or giggling sounds, stand your ground, but refrain from advancing toward the hyena.
  7. Create Noise: Make yourself loud, appear aggressive, and project a frightening demeanor to discourage the hyena.

Being aware of these safety measures can contribute to minimizing risks and ensuring a safer interaction with hyenas in the wild.

Where to see hyenas in Africa

  1. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania:
    • The Serengeti is home to the spotted hyena, the most common and well-known hyena species. Game drives in the Serengeti offer opportunities to encounter hyenas, both during the day and around their dens at night.
  2. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya:
    • Similar to the Serengeti, the Masai Mara is a prime location for spotting spotted hyenas. These cunning predators are often seen scavenging or hunting in the open grasslands.
  3. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania:
    • The Ngorongoro Crater is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to a variety of wildlife, including hyenas. The unique landscape provides an excellent setting for observing hyenas in action.
  4. Kruger National Park, South Africa:
    • Kruger National Park is known for its diverse wildlife, and the park’s hyena population can be encountered during game drives. Both spotted and brown hyenas are found in this region.
  5. Okavango Delta, Botswana:
    • The Okavango Delta is a unique ecosystem where both spotted and brown hyenas coexist. Boat safaris and game drives in this pristine wilderness offer opportunities to observe hyenas in their natural habitat.
  6. Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe:
    • Hwange National Park is home to various predators, including spotted hyenas. Guided game drives and walking safaris provide opportunities to witness hyenas in the park.
  7. Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana:
    • Moremi Game Reserve, located within the Okavango Delta, is renowned for its rich biodiversity. Spotted hyenas can be spotted here, especially near water sources.
  8. Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda:
    • Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to the unique tree-climbing lions as well as spotted hyenas. Game drives in the park provide a chance to observe these predators in their natural environment.
  9. Ethiopian Highlands, Ethiopia:
    • The Ethiopian Highlands are home to the endemic Ethiopian wolf, which is known to interact with hyenas. The Simien Mountains and Bale Mountains National Parks are potential locations for such sightings.

And many more>>>

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