The thing I love about the bush is that you never know what is around the next corner. You may know the area or the roads really well but today there might be a special bird fluttering in the bushes nearby or a cheetah seen slinking across the road. That anticipation is what drives my passion for the bush. This afternoon’s game drive was just this.
We were on a mission to add a few more birds to our fast expanding list, when we came round a bend in the road to find four Spotted Hyenas wallowing in a pool of water in the road. They all put up their heads to see if we posed a threat, twitching their ears backwards and forwards, muscles tense and ready to spring out of the water. After a few moments all expect one decided we were harmless and relaxed back down into the muddy water. The 2 adult females keeping a beady eye in our direction.
A youngster had leapt out of the puddle on our arrival and was standing, poised in the grass to the side, looking curiously at us. We held our breath to see if it would stay or run. To our surprise and delight it started wandering down the road towards us, nose in the air and ears searching for any alarming sound.
The two smaller hyenas looked fluffier and more ‘puppy’ like, not quite having grown into their ears or paws and were definitely more curious. It eventually got to within 2 meters of the bumper, and it flopped down as if to find a comfortable spot to study us as we were studying it. The other youngster must have got ‘fomo’ as it too got out of the puddle and wandered over to its sibling and sat just behind it.
We sat regarding each other, no doubt they discussing this strange metal contraption as we discussed how beautiful the Hyenas really were, and how muddy and cool the puddle looked. After about 20 mins of them scratching and sniffing, and us pointing and oooo and ahhhhing in hushed voices, they seemed to get bored, or maybe hot, and wandered back to the puddle and joined the females once again. After a little while the whole family got up and wandered off into the bush, their cooling swim over for today.