Stretching across 332 000ha of unspoiled coastline, coastal sand dunes, and plateaux, iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a World Heritage Site and is renowned for its diverse wildlife and exceptionally beautiful landscapes.
While out on game drives within the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, guests at Makakatana Bay Lodge often have the chance to enjoy some wonderful wildlife sightings. Whether it be a herd of elephants strolling along the shores of Lake St Lucia, a solo black rhino marking his territory, or a herd of majestic waterbuck grazing on the lush grass, there is always something special to be observed.
Spotting any wild animal is a privilege, but some animal sightings seem to be favoured over others. Everybody wants to see a member of the exclusive ‘Big Five’, but there are so many other amazing animals out there that are often overlooked. Hyenas tend to be one of them. Lumped into the category of the ‘Ugly Five’, spotted hyenas have a bad reputation with many travellers for being backstabbing opportunists that skulk around the bush. However, they are in fact incredibly intelligent and strong animals, and often prefer to hunt their own food rather than scavenge it. In addition to this, they have some very interesting antics and group dynamics that can make sightings of them highly entertaining. For many rangers and conservationists, hyenas fall quite high up on the list of favourites.
Photo by Richard Atkinson.
Just recently, guests at Makakatana were treated to an excellent sighting of a hyena who has clearly survived many battles! Marked with various battle wounds, she is most definitely a warrior of iSimangaliso. Hyenas live in strictly matriarchal societies led by an alpha female, so it’s not uncommon to see a female hyena with scars from fighting. Even their genitals mimic those of males which can make it difficult to determine what sex they are, however female hyenas are generally much larger than the males which is usually the telltale sign.
Photo by Richard Atkinson.
Even when you can’t see the spotted hyenas, guests at Makakatana often hear them calling out at night. While the iSimangaliso Wetland Park may not have lions, the spotted hyena is the king, or should we say ‘queen’, of the bush, and holds the status as the park’s most successful predator, with leopards following closely behind.
Take a look at this video of a spotted hyena taken by one of Makakatana’s rangers:
Thank you to Richard Atkinson who shared his amazing photos of his stay at Makakatana with us. You can find more photos of this hyena sighting, and other wildlife images, here: https://www.stonehouse.camera/South-Africa/Isimangaliso-Wetland-Park/