Territorial disputes can occasionally turn violent. And when wild animals fight, you can know that one of them will always pull the short straw, thus there will never be a tie.
Vicky Stephenson, a 29-year-old field guide and camp manager, reported hearing odd hyena sounds from her camp in Greater Kruger National Park’s Ingwelala in December 2019. It appeared to be emerging from the riverbed. She was asked by Latestsightings.com to describe what had happened that day.
“We promptly left to investigate the weird hyena noises when we heard them. In the river, there was fighting between two hyenas. One was the assailant, and the other was making an effort to flee.
“It was the first time any of us had ever witnessed such a nasty fight between hyenas, so we were all horrified. It was horrifying to witness because the hyena being attacked was already severely hurt and appeared to be in great fear, fatigue, and suffering. Although it wasn’t fun to watch, we felt compelled to since it was so fascinating—especially for a field guide who had never seen anything like it before.
“After about two hours of intermittent fighting, we noticed the assailant and two other people moving toward the hurt hyena. At that point, we realized the hyena would not survive the final fight, so we made the decision to let it alone. After we left, the hyena was killed, as we later learned from the office.
“We forwarded our video to a hyena expert to learn what they believed would have caused such a brutal battle. The four hyenas involved, she clarified, were all males. She could see from the teeth that the young hyena being assaulted had just lately joined another clan after leaving his own, as males do to ensure genetic diversity. It happens occasionally, and the three males in this zone weren’t happy about it.
“I have never witnessed a hyena fight as bad as this one. Normally, there will be a tussle at a kill, but never a fight this intense and prolonged. Even though it’s never enjoyable to see an animal in pain, nature always has a reason, and if you can handle it, you will never forget and possibly never get to see this sighting again! Take as many pictures and videos as you can, as they can be instructive to others.