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Ambassadors Programme

Explorer

Tom Svensson

Jun19

Misunderstood beauty

By Tom Svensson, Monday June 19, 2017
Young hyena just out of the den. Taken on an EOS-1D X Mark II with an EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens at 560mm; the exposure was 1/800sec at f/8, ISO 1600.

Young hyena just out of the den. Taken on an EOS-1D X Mark II with an EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens at 560mm; the exposure was 1/800sec at f/8, ISO 1600. © Tom Svensson

I had the great luck and honour of being able to spend time with hyenas on my latest trip to South Africa.

The family spotted hyenas also include the brown hyena, the striped and aardwolf. The aardwolf is the oldest of the species and goes back more than 15 million years, the spotted hyena more than 10 million years.

Spotted hyena can grow up to 80cm, males are about 10 percent smaller within the hyena family. They can measure up 150cm long and with a weight of up to 80kg. They are built to crush bone and have a pressure up to 9000 newtons in their jaws. The females live in clans and are often related but males are brought in to bring new blood to the clan. The female gives birth to two to four cubs. The females help to look after them and it is only the female that gives her own cubs milk.

Hyenas are territorial. They go off to look for food by themselves but when finding food or in need of help they will call each other for help or backup. Hyenas are active hunters and kill between 60-90 percent of what they eat. Their family structure and behaviour is more like baboons and therefore very unique.

I was so happy when I got to spend time with these amazing animals. And then to also find out they had two small ones was a big bonus. So next time you see them don’t see them as many people do but see them as the amazing, caring and intesting family that they are. I just love them.


Curious hyena. Taken on an EOS-1D X Mark II with an EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens at 560mm; the exposure was 1/400sec at f/7.1, ISO 200.

Curious hyena. Taken on an EOS-1D X Mark II with an EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens at 560mm; the exposure was 1/400sec at f/7.1, ISO 200. © Tom Svensson

A mum and her cub. Taken on an EOS-1DX Mark II with an EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens at 560mm; the exposure was 1/320sec at f/8, ISO 640.

A mum and her cub. Taken on an EOS-1DX Mark II with an EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens at 560mm; the exposure was 1/320sec at f/8, ISO 640. © Tom Svensson