When someone mentions hyenas, we all think about their irritating laugh, don’t we? But, as much as these interesting animals are annoying, we can’t ignore the fact that hyenas are very skilled hunters. Many large cats, such as lions, tigers and leopards, have a nightmare because of these scavengers.
Who are hyenas?
Spotted hyenas are the largest of three species. Although they appear similar to dogs, they are actually more closely related to cats. They live throughout much of Africa and eastwards through Arabia to India. These social animals live together in large groups called clans that may include up to 80 individuals and are led by females.
How do they hunt?
Hyenas have good hearing and sharp eyesight at night. They are fast and able to run for long distances without tiring. Packs work together effectively to isolate a herd animal, sometimes one that is ill or infirm, and pursue it to the death. The victors often fight over the prey, either among themselves or with other powerful animals like lions. They are quite vocal and make a wide variety of sounds, including the “laughing” that has long been associated with their name.
Problems with humans.
Since the hyenas habit in Africa, which is overpopulated, they often come into a frequent contact with humans. In fact, the Masai people of Kenya and Tanzania actually leave their dead to be consumed by hyenas. However, these intelligent and bold animals will attack even food stores and crops and are blamed for many livestock and even some human deaths. In some areas they have been heavily hunted as destructive pests.
Myths about hyenas.
They are extremely intelligent animals with exquisite hunting skills. These apex predators are critical to controlling prey populations and preventing the spread of disease, particularly by eating every last bit of an animal. They are very strong, stubby hind legs increase energy efficiency, allowing the animals to lope easily across the ground. Hyena also have big, strong lungs and hearts as well as wide nostrils that facilitate oxygen exchange. And no, they don’t stink, they actually don’t have much of smell.
Although these incredibly intelligent animals have a bad rap, no one can deny that these animals are Africa’s most successful predator. Don’t judge the book by its cover, don’t you agree?
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