Daytime Hyaenas Mating

The Spotted Hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta) of the South Luangwa National Park are primarily a crepuscular to nocturnal species. Trying to capture one in action during the daylight hours, can be a challenging exercise. So capturing Hyaenas on film while they are mating during the daylight hours, is a rare treat indeed. Shenton Safaris’ head guide Patrick Njobvu was with guests on a drive close to Mwamba Bushcamp, when they happened upon just such a sight.

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They were trailing fresh Lion tracks on the road, when they suddenly spotted the Hyaenas in a clinch. This was only the second time in 24 years of guiding that Patrick had seen Hyaenas mating! Now they were right out in the open and he was amazed at how relaxed the nuptial couple were. They appeared quite comfortable with the cameras clicking away, mere metres from them.

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Hyaena clans are matriarchal societies, closely resembling the social structures of Monkeys and Baboons. But here the roles are reversed, as each male in the clan holds inferior status to each of the females. In fact, visiting males from other clans are immediately awarded top male status, possibly as a means of avoiding inbreeding. The adult females are larger than their male counterparts and dominance is achieved through aggression. It is interesting to note that social status is achieved via direct competition. The newborn pups fight for dominance over their siblings from the moment of their first breath.

Female Hyaenas have genitalia resembling those of the males, with a pseudo penis that achieves a greater size than the male’s when erect. A  false scrotum adds to the subterfuge and the fact that she lacks an external vaginal opening, completes the picture! They have a single urogenital canal in their pseudo penis through which she urinates, copulates and gives birth. Some researchers have noted that the first birth appears to be incredibly painful, which is unusual in most mammals.

Below is a short video of the actual act:

A short story by Patrick Njobvu.

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