Friday, July 2, 2010
(PICTURE: The only shot of a hyena I got...but not my only experience.)
About two months ago I read the book, "Life of Pi." One of the main characters in the book is a hyena. There is a ridiculous amount of information about hyenas in the book which is to say, I knew more about hyenas than any other animals going into this safari.
On our first full day on safari, a hyena walked on to the road in front of us. I was in the midst of changing lenses when the hyena casually walked back into the brush and disappeared. He was only visible for about thirty seconds or so but he completely peaked my interest. There's something absolutely disturbing about hyenas. They look like giant crazy dogs with nothing but sinister thoughts going through their minds.
After seeing the guy in the picture above, I became obsessed with seeing more hyenas. On our last day, Crimson told one of the other guides we wanted to see a hyena and sure enough, later in the morning we got a radio call that there was a hyena near us. Crimson put the Land Rover into hyper drive and headed to where the hyena was spotted. We got to the spot just in time to see the hyena gallop by us at an incredible speed. Once again I got a great glimpse of a hyena but I didn't get any pictures. What I did see though totally impressed me. The hyena was running so incredibly fast and looked to be touching the ground only once ever 7 feet or so. This only served to increase my obsession.
Later that night, at around 2:30 in the morning, Dave, myself and Crimson were enjoying a beer by the Sabi Sabi Lodge's fireplace. At some point Crimson excused himself to go have a cigarette and then quickly came back into the lodge and whispered, "Do you guys want to see a hyena?" Dave and I both nodded and then followed Crimson on tiptoes out into the night. We walked through the area everyone dines at night, then through the kitchen and back towards the Sabi Sabi dumpsters. Sure enough, there in the moonlight was a big hyena. The hyena had been looking for scraps -- a very hyena thing to do -- and then walked off slowly into the night. Once again I didn't get a picture but I'll definitely always remember this moment -- when Dave, our guide and I tracked a dangerous animal on foot...with no gun.