This week saw a horrendous hyena attack in at of the nearby Maasai villages. In the middle of the day a small herd of cattle was grazing near the village. Without warning a pack of hyenas, about five, appeared within the herd. Before the young boys herding the cattle could raise the alarm, the hyenas had ripped the throats out of two of two milk cows. Startled and maybe frightened by the shouts of the herders, the pack of hyenas lumbered off. Alerted by the distinctive calls of the boys indicating an immediate threat, warriors quickly came running with their short swords and spears. They went off tracking the hyenas.
This attack in broad daylight quite near a village was very unusual. Hyenas often attack villages in the night, carrying off a young goat or sheep. From time to time a hyena will enter a house, grab a woman or child by the foot while sleeping, and try to drag the person away. But this is the first time that I’ve heard of such a daring daylight raid.
Traditionally, we thought of hyenas as scavengers of dead and rotting meat, the kills of lions or leopards. In more recent years we’ve come to realize that hyenas are hunters and very effective ones. On the plains spread out before us here at Olbalbal, one sometimes comes across packs of hunting hyenas running down Thomson and Grant gazelles.
In the Maasai villages of Lorlmun’yi on the mountain above us here there have been a rash of recent leopard attacks on sheep and goat enclosures. A number of families have lost animals to these stealthy and powerful animals. The people are uncertain whether it is a single leopard attacking or a number of them. They are so fast getting in and out of a “boma”, taking a goat or sheep in their powerful jaws, that the warriors so far have been unable to catch them (or it). They tell me that they are looking for some kind of poison to put on a freshly killed goat to get the intruder when it comes back for a second meal.