The Spotted Hyena is a fairly common inhabitant of Kruger National Park especially where game is plentiful. Hyenas appear to be distinctly canine, but are generally larger and more powerfully built than a dog. They have a broad head, large eyes, weak
hindquarters and a sloping back that gives them a loping gate when they run. The Hyena’s coat is a dull grey to buff in color patterned with black spots except on the throat.
Hyenas are mainly nocturnal but can often be seen during the day especially around lion or cheetah kills, where they impatiently squabble with vultures for a the remains of a carcass. Otherwise Hyenas spend their time hiding in tall grasses, abandoned burrows or in drainage pipes alongside the road. They can be found in woodlands, open savanna and semi desert areas. They are predominately scavengers, but can be relentless hunters. They are active mainly at dusk. They roll in mud, carrion or regurgitated food and indulge in mutual licking and grooming and will often wash off in water after eating.
The Hyena family structure is maternal, in which the largest, and heaviest female is the undisputed ruler of the clan. There is usually a single dominant male which defers to the ruling female. The main creditor of Hyena are lions but the young can fall prey to leopard and wild dogs.
During mating season especially on moon light nights hyenas assemble in large numbers for a night time chorus…this is an integral sound of the typical African night, with a long succession of drawn-out whoops, beginning low on the scale then rising in cadence up the scale, ending with a low moaning . Other vocalizations are hysterical giggling after a successful hunt and yelling when trying to drive off an enemy.