A TALE OF AFRICA
A FAMILY DAY IN THE LIFE OF A BABY HYENA
Good morning world! What a beautiful gorgeous day today; sunny, mild and no predators around. Our communal den is well hidden, deep inside the termite mould, and our enemies haven’t discovered it yet; so we can stay out playing without any fear. Now that I am six weeks old I can start wandering around. Ah, my belly is still so full of milk! It has been a lucky day yesterday. Mum, auntie Sallie, auntie Sarah and auntie Sandra were so clever to spot that silly kudu who was so far from the group. I’m too small to go hunting now, but Jodie, who’s 14 months old, told me how she watched with pride while, carefully, they distracted the animal, wearied it out and knocked it down, without letting go. I want to be like mum when I grow up. Today and tomorrow she needs full rest and to finish digesting the bones, hooves and teeth of our victim; nothing was left. This is why we earned the title of “cleaners of the savannah”! My mother is an alpha female, which means that she is the first one to get the food; this applies to me too, because I have inherited her social rank. I’ll be stronger and better able to succeed on my own when leaving home. This increases my survival expectation and my reproductive power, which means that I’ll be more successful with boys too!!! Where is mum? I can’t see her around.
There she is! “Mum, mum, I missed you so much; you were not there when I woke up!” “Samantha, be careful, you’re scratching my eye. You should be more careful baby.” “You’re not cross at me, are you?” “No, my love, I just need to have some more rest; I’m getting old and last night’s hunt left me breathless.” “Come on, mum, stop saying this silly thing about getting old. Jodie told me you were the bravest of all, running and grinding in front of the kudu and making him frowning with fear.” “Yes, but this time it was harder. Groan, my stomach is so full now. I haven’t regurgitated the pellets yet. Those horns were really too hard. I can’t move.” “Oh, I thought that, may be, we could play… or you could take me around and explore. How can I become a strong, fearless and brave hyena if you don’t start instructing me?” “You’ re still too young honey, wait for your time, when you are 1 year old.” “But what shall I do now?” “Yawn, shut up and let me rest. Go and play with your brothers and cousins.” “Mum, you know they don’t want me to stay and they say I’m too small! Come and tell them to let me in.” “For goodness sake, Samantha, you’re a pain in the neck. How can you became a brave and courageous hunter if your’re afraid of your siblings? And you know it’s something you have to do. If you’re brave and strong enough you’ll become the leader yourself. You have to learn how to become tough! It’s risky. Sometimes your own life is in jeopardy. Look how my sister Sally is still mourning the loss of Kathy, killed by her own brother. Nevertheless your aunt cares a lot for Stewart, feeding and trying to make him stronger every day. This is how we are brought up. It’s a crucial preparation for adult’s life. Every day is full of danger for us and enemies lurk outside the den! We can’t afford to have losers in our society! It’s not easy! And we must be intelligent too! This is why we have amongst the best survival rate in the forest: because we have social skills certainly not inferior to Primates. And those stupid humans pretending we are just scavengers, whereas we hunt and kill 90% of our preys. They try to shame and disregard us, silly people! We can do better than lions, as you know. And other animals should thank us when we devour carcassas as well, because we keep the territory free from disease.
Look there, at Tommy! He’s always on his own, exploring, smelling, finding things to do. He’s not afraid of being alone; it’s the way to forge your character, to become strong and resilient. See how he relates to the others? Nobody can put him off. And how he‘s fighting with Jack for that piece of log? He reminds me of my father. Even for our matriarchal society, mother was sometimes afraid of him. Look! He won it all for himself now! Oh, the kids are now tired of playing and just lazily bask in the sun. And – see? Philip and Jack are cleaning their gums on that scorched tree. Remember to brush your teeth as well, as your elder brothers are doing now on that log, honey; healthy gum and teeth are vital for a hyena survival.
It’s such a peaceful and beautiful day; so rare!
The sun is peaking out of that tree now. Let’s enjoy its warmth for the time being and be happy and grateful for another safe and healthy day for all members of our big family. It’s so good to see how our family is so well organized and prosperous. Isn’t it the most important thing in life? Caring for each other and providing food and shelter for our children, so we can prosper and help the future generation to flourish. That’s the only secret for a happy life. Ah, if only humans could understand that…..”