Lions and Hyenas : The Ultimate Frenemies

It is believed that hyenas steal up to 20% of kills from lions. A heartbreaking statistic for our rather robust and proficient predators! When you’ve identified your prey, made eye contact with your pride members, assumed your position in the takedown formation, stalked, pounced and put in the hard graft; it’s bound to raise your hackles when your meal is stolen. The hyena is the lion’s arch enemy, but lions actually need these loping scavengers to clean up after them. Lions and hyenas are most certainly the ultimate frenemies!

The hyenas sneaky scavenging ways aggravate our menacing cats, and their brazen bravado knows no bounds. When a pride or coalition has completed the takedown and the prey is ready to be devoured, you will hear the hyenas vocalising. The clans catch a whiff of blood in the air and summon the clan members to the area where the prey has fallen. The bone-crushing scavengers, although proficient and methodical hunters, will stop at nothing to steal a fresh kill. This makes them one of the most successful carnivores in the animal kingdom.

Hyena will awkwardly gallop towards the lions, hoping for a gap to access the prey. Their shrill calls exhibit signs of anxiety and excitement. Hyena are quite successful at stealing parts of a kill and often walk away with a femur or two! Lions will defend their hard-earned meal and around the carcass site is where you’ll see the majority of lion vs hyena scuffles.

Lions are messy eaters and leave a trail of meaty mess after gorging themselves. Hyenas are the janitors of the bushveld and hang out on the periphery of a kill site, just waiting for the opportunity to help. Hyena remove bone fragments, entrails, hide and decaying flesh from a kill site. They are champions in thwarting the spread of disease within a reserve.  It’s been scientifically proven that hyena outperforms chimps in problem-solving tasks.

Silently a friend to lions, but outwardly an enemy.

Lions - Kevin MacLaughlin Lion on Kill - Kevin MacLaughlin

Hyena Scavenging - Em Gatland

© Chloë Cooper lion



Author: Carolynne Higgins

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