Mashatu Hyaenas and Jackals

This is the second post from my trip to Mashatu in early June. There is such a diversity of wildlife in Mashatu it is difficult to decide on a theme for the next post. The last post was Mashatu’s Lions and Leopards and this one is of Hyaenas and Jackals, of which there are many.

Every night you hear the Hyaenas whooping. It is a hideous sound but you really get the sense you are deep in wild Africa.

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Late one morning, we came across this bone-crusher queen. This Hyaena was steadily break pieces off this old Elephant thigh bone. We could hear the crushing and crunching of the bone. I can only assume there must have been some marrow still in that bone for this lone Hyaena to be gnawing on the it so intently.

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We saw two Hyaena dens in this Mashatu trip. One seemed to be the matriarch’s bedroom and at first glance so did the other. It was only after watching her for a while did we hear muffled sounds coming from inside the den. Hyaenas seem to like old Antbear holes as den sites.

This female in the next few images had what looked like a broken tooth and a cut lip which had long since healed leaving her with a twisted smile.

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First one pup come out into the mid afternoon sun and then a second. I have never seen such young pups so close. The female seemed unperturbed by our presence.

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The one pup was very affectionate with its mother. At one point the female yawned and you could get a sense of how strong her jaw and teeth were.

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We often came across lone Hyaenas on their way back to the clan early in the morning. It seemed that the Hyaenas bomb-shelled in the early evening and if an individual came across something interesting it would call its clan members or call for back up. Once a Hyaena stares directly at you there is that shred of primal fear that wells up in you.

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There are also plenty of Black-backed Jackals in Mashatu. They are often seen in pairs scouting and foraging for food.

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We also came across a family of five Black-backed Jackals. Presumably the youngsters had stayed with their parents to help bring up the next litter. Jackal pups are usually born in late winter probably because food in most abundant at that time. Winter in Mashatu can be harsh for grazers as the grass all but disappears and this probably improves the  Jackal’s hunting success rate or  ability to get more scraps than usual.

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These Jackals are very light on their feet running effortlessly through the bush over what, in places, looks very rough and rocky terrain for their paws.

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On the morning drive you will often hear that characteristic Jackals yelping or rapid, high-pitched barking. This is often a sign that another predator such as a Leopard is close by. Needless to say we always go and have a look around the vicinity of the yelping.

 We did not see any kills but we did see many Jackals. Despite the fact that Mashatu is now getting very dry, there is plenty of water in the rivers and the bush is bustling with mammals and birds. Every game drive produces unusual sightings.

I will put up another two posts one on Mashatu vistas and another on a selection of Mashatu birds in the next week. There is abundant birdlife, despite the migrants having moved up north.

I hope you enjoyed the images. Mashatu never disappoints.

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order”.

John Burroughs

Have fun

Mike

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