Lion and Hyena – Giraffe kill, Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Lion have been quite visible in Hluhluwe Game Reserve lately.

Sunday afternoon we found a giraffe kill right next to the road in Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve.
As we approached it there were people infront of us who were holding hankies over their noses as they were in an open game drive vehicle  –  Suddenly the wind blew in our direction and we got the smell which was quite overpowering!

The lion was about a meter from us but behind a bush so unfortunately we could not capture it on camera but  the hyena were feeding at the giraffe so I managed to get a quick photo – the hyena were nervous of the lion and moving about. (by then I was holding my breath and trying to cover my nose…)

Before we got to the kill we saw an injured giraffe.

The photo shows his stiff left front leg. – he could hardly step on it.

Perhaps he kicked the lion?


We only left the reserve just before dark. Thus the sunset with the starburst reflection on the river taken there..




Once the lion have left their kill, Hyenas will arrive and even if  other predators and  vultures arrive first at a feeding site, the hyena’s aggressive demeanor and indiscriminate voracity enable it to lay first claim to carrion.

It can consume a third of its weight at a single meal (Kruuk 1972) and accepts every kind of organic matter. Meat and offal may be preferred, but a hungry animal will also swallow hide, hooves, hair, teeth, and bone. Nor is carrion in an advanced state of putrification refused.

Aside from anything this creature does, the spotted hyena stands out for its singular appearance: Heavy shoulders, sloping back, large head, and wide mouth make this animal seem larger than its actual weight of 50 to 90 kilograms. Upper and lower premolar teeth in those heavily muscled jaws form a powerful pair of shears.

Forelimbs longer than the hind legs produce a lumbering gait that, together with luminescent eyes, adds to its fearsome reputation (Figure 1). A dozen distinctive vocalizations allow communication within and between clans in this most social of species in the order Carnivora.

An eerie whoop call and a sound that resembles the laugh of a demented person are the two tonalities that wildlife watchers invariably remark upon. Humans also comment on its purported offensive odor, although it is not clear how much of that comes from glandular secretions, feeding habits, or the practice of rolling in strong-smelling regurgitated material.

Most unusual for a mammalian species is its sexual mimicry: Not only is the clitoris of the female similar to the penis of the male in size, shape, and erectile ability, it also has a urogenital function and doubles as a birthing canal. Cross-gender resemblance advanced a widespread belief going back to Classical Antiquity that this animal was either hermaphroditic or capable of changing its sex from year to year – observation disproved those ancient assertions, current folklore about the spotted hyena revolves around similar suppositions.

Stephen Gould (1981) explained physiognomic convergence of the sexes as a case of accidental evolution, whereas Martin Muller and Richard Wrangham (2002) interpreted it as an evolutionary adaptation of females directing their aggression more toward females than to males.

Fierce behavior may start in the den when a stronger cub kills its weaker sibling (Frank, Glickman, and Licht 1991). Unlike other mammals, female spotted hyenas are larger and more aggressive than their male counterparts.

Their different characteristics together have prompted Africans to judge them negatively (Schwartz 2005). Scientists who have studied them agree that these animals are intelligent and adaptable (Kruuk 1972; Glickman 1995).   (extract from Goliath Geographical Review)