Incredible survival by blind Spotted Hyena

Blind hyena

It’s not unusual, and many people do know that hyenas are really comfortable in water. It is fairly common to come across a hyena sleeping in shallow water during the heat of the day. They are also seen just playing tag and wrestling especially when they are well fed and the carcass is near to the water. This image has nothing to do with a hyena having fun in water but what it does covey is just what incredible survivors hyenas are. While working on a grant from National Geographic I was alerted to this single hyena that was often seen in the mud of a drying pool. It took a number of visits before I glimpsed the hyena, but not in the water. I ventured back the next morning and to my amazement here was the hyena in the mud amongst a few perplexed hippos. Unfortunately most people don’t hang around hyenas for long enough, but I was, and I was rewarded. Turns out this particular hyena was blind in both eyes as you can see from the image and badly injured on a front and back leg. What the hyena was doing in the mud became obvious after watching for some time. Beneath the mud and amongst the hippo was a carcass. Who had stashed it there is anyones guess, but this hyena had found it and was making good use of the supply. Each day the hyena would high step all the way to the mud hole, wander in and dive down into the mud to retrieve a piece of the carcass. I find it pretty amazing that an animal with those kind on injuries was capable of surviving. I know that this hyena survived for at least  number of months after this sighting. 

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