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Spotted Hyena

Spotted Hyena
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter van Zoest (PeterZ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2010-05-15
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 70-300mm f4-5.6 G, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/8, 1/250 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Very well documented! [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2011-11-12 7:02
Viewed: 5528
Points: 56
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Not a bird this time, but a fascinating mammal which I’ve seen in African countries many times. I’ve posted a photo of this animal in 2007. This one is from Senegal, and yes.... taken in the wild.... in a big national reserve.
There’s a lot of information about these animals, but I collect some interesting facts.

The Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) also known as laughing hyena, is a carnivorous mammal of the family Hyaenidae, of which it is the largest extant member. Though the species' prehistoric range included Eurasia extending from Atlantic Europe to China, it now only occurs in all of Africa south of the Sahara save for the Congo Basin. Spotted hyenas live in large matriarchal communities called clans, which can consist of up to 80 individuals.

Though often mislabeled as cowardly scavengers, spotted hyenas derive the majority of their nourishment by hunting medium sized ungulates, and frequently clash with lions over food and territory. Studies indicate that their social intelligence is on par with some primate species. The relative amount of frontal cortex in their brains not used for motor control is higher than in other carnivorans examined, which has been attributed to their complex social lives.

The spotted hyena features prominently in African mythology and folklore, where its portrayal varies from being a bringer of light, to a symbol of immorality and depravity.

Physical description
Spotted hyenas are the largest of extant hyenas. Their hair is shorter than those of striped hyenas, and their manes less full. Spotted hyenas have powerful forequarters and necks which rival those of leopards, though comparatively small hindquarters. The rump is rounded rather than angular, which prevents attackers chasing from behind getting a firm grip on it. Female spotted hyenas are considerably larger than males, weighing 12% more. Adults measure 95–165.8 cm in body length, plus a tail of 25–35 cm, and have a shoulder height of 70–91.5 cm. Adult male spotted hyenas in the Serengeti weigh 40.5—55.0 kg , while females weigh 44.5—63.9 kg. Spotted hyenas in Zambia tend to be heavier, with males weighing on average 67.6 kg , and females 69.2 kg. The skulls of Zambian hyenas are also 7% longer and wider than those of Serengeti populations.

Spotted hyenas will rest and give birth in dens, which they rarely dig themselves: they will often use the abandoned lairs of warthogs, springhares and jackals. A single den can house several females and dozens of cubs at once. Unlike grey wolves, it is not uncommon for spotted hyenas to accommodate cubs of different litters in one den. Spotted hyenas will sometimes live in close proximity to warthogs, sharing mud holes and sleeping within a few metres of each other. Spotted hyenas may sleep in the open if the weather is not too hot, but otherwise they will rest near lakes, streams or in mud or dense shrubs. Unlike most social carnivores, spotted hyenas still display some atavistic behaviours of their solitary ancestors: spotted hyenas still head out for food alone, but later return to their community. Like other hyenas, spotted hyenas have two anal scent glands, which open into the rectum just inside the anal opening, though these glands are less elaborate than those of other hyena species. The white paste produced by these glands is deposited on grass stalks, and produces a powerful soapy odour which even humans can detect. Pasting is performed on a number of different occasions, such as when walking alone, when around a kill, when lions are present, by males and cubs near dens, and most frequently by parties of hyenas at territorial boundaries. Pasting is often followed by scratching the ground with their forepaws, which adds further scents from their interdigital glands.

Social behaviour
Spotted hyenas are more social than grey wolves, but their groups are not as closely knit as African wild dogs. Spotted hyena societies are more complex than those of other carnivorous mammals, and have been reported to be remarkably similar to those of cercopithecine primates in respect to group size, structure, competition and cooperation. Like primates, spotted hyenas use multiple sensory modalities, recognise individual conspecifics, are conscious that some clan-mates may be more reliable than others, recognise 3rd party kin and rank relationships among clan-mates, and adaptively use this knowledge during social decision making. Also, like cercopithecine primates, dominance ranks in hyena societies are not correlated with size or aggression, but with ally networks. Group size is variable; a "clan" of spotted hyenas can include 5–90 members and is led by a single alpha female called the matriarch. Scientists theorise that female hyena dominance could be an adaptation to the length of time it takes for cubs to develop the massive skulls and jaws, and intense feeding competition within clans, thus necessitating greater attention and dominating behaviours from females. Female hyena dominance is sometimes explained by the unusually high concentration of androgens produced by the ovaries. However adult hyena males display a higher concentration of androgens than adult hyena females. This would suggest that adult concentrations of androgens probably do not account for the difference of social dominance.

Dietary habits
Spotted hyenas are better equipped for scavenging than other African predators: not only are they able to splinter and eat the largest ungulate bones, they are also able to digest them completely. Spotted hyenas can digest all organic components in bones, not just the marrow. Any inorganic material is excreted with the faeces, which consist almost entirely of a white powder with few hairs. They react to alighting vultures more readily than other African carnivores, and are more likely to stay in the vicinity of lion kills or human settlements. Wildebeest are the most commonly taken medium sized ungulate prey item in both Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, with zebra and Thomson's gazelles coming close behind. Cape buffalo are rarely attacked due to differences in habitat preference, though adult bulls have been recorded to be taken on occasion. Spotted hyenas have also been found to catch fish, tortoises, humans, black rhino, hippo calves, young African elephants, pangolins, pythons, and a large number of different ungulate species.
A single spotted hyena can eat at least 14.5 kg of meat per meal. Although spotted hyenas act aggressively toward each other when feeding, they compete with each other mostly through speed of eating, rather than by fighting as lions do. When feeding on an intact carcass, spotted hyenas will first consume the meat around the loins and anal region, then open the abdominal cavity and pull out the soft organs. Once the stomach, its wall and contents are consumed, the hyenas will eat the lungs and abdominal and leg muscles. Once the muscles have been eaten, the carcass is disassembled and the hyenas carry off pieces to eat in peace. Spotted hyenas are adept at eating their prey in water: they have been observed to dive under floating carcasses to take bites, then resurface to swallow. A single hyena can take less than two minutes in eating a gazelle fawn, while a group of 35 hyenas can completely consume an adult zebra in 36 minutes. Spotted hyenas do not require much water, and typically only spend 30 seconds drinking.

Spotted hyenas are very vocal animals, and produce a number of different calls. Generally, high pitched calls signify fear or submission, while low pitched calls accompany a high tendency to attack.
The loud "whoop" is a characteristic sound of the African night and is audible for over 5 km (3.1 mi) or more. It is a rallying cry, which varies in speed and pitch according to the urgency of the situation. Spotted hyenas also whoop to show off as individuals, the rate and style being an indicator of social status. Because of this, spotted hyenas whoop singly rather than in chorus as wolf packs do to display their collective strength. Although males tend to whoop more than females of similar rank, dominant females will engage in the longest bouts of whooping. Giggles and grunt-laughter tend to be emitted in situations of great excitement, and perhaps indicate a conflicting tendency to flee or stay. The giggles, yells and grunts which accompany mass feeding tend to be directed at competing individuals at a carcass, and have the secondary, disadvantageous effect of attracting lions and other spotted hyenas. The pitch of the laugh indicates the hyena's age, while variations in the frequency of notes used when hyenas make noises convey information about the animal's social rank. Soft grunts are made by females calling their cubs. When attacked, spotted hyenas will emit loud growls and whimpers.

Source: Parts from Wikipedia

jurek1951, marius-secan, Jakkals, tuslaw, pegos, cobra112, kapildk, maaciejka, jlinaresp, bungbing, Mamagolo2, jcoowanitwong, Pitoncle, Argus, CeltickRanger has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Peter,
wonderful portrait photo of this dangerous and really wild hyena
composition, point of view, lighting, colours, contrast, sharpness and details are great,

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2011-11-12 7:58]

Hello Peter.
Magnificent portrait.POV,expression on face,clear details,exposure,BG and DOF you managed are excellent.
Thanks for posting.Best regards Siggi

Hello Peter!
Wow! this pic was taken in the wild??? Luck man!!!!
This is a terrific shot with great sharpness and lovely composition.Bravo!And thanks for sharing!
Nice w-end!

Hello Peter,
great portrait of this Spotted Hyena with very good sharpness and nice details. I especially like the fine light and the beautifully natural colours.
Best wishes,

hallo peter
Leuk om deze te zien van je
Super mooie kop net veel scherpte en goed van details
de kleuren zijn erg goed
bedankt groetjes lou

  • Great 
  • ddg Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 867 W: 24 N: 1008] (5507)
  • [2011-11-12 9:32]

Bonjour Peter, joli portrait de hyène; le rendu de la fourrure est parfait ainsi que l'attitude de la bête. Félicitations, Didier.

Hello Peter,
Great photo taken from a very close range.
Fantastic clarity, sharpness and exposure.
The colors, razor sharp details and WB are outstanding.
Thanks for sharing!

Hello Peter,
Ja, houd ik/verkies van het zo, in de wildernis. Uitstekend portret van de Bevlekte Hyena. De buitengewone scherpte van het haar komt, frown, oogcontact en de vlieg voor. Goede POV en DOF. Goed uitgevoerd.
Vriendelijke groeten,

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2011-11-12 9:53]

Hello Peter,
Maybe not a bird, but still an outstanding photo. The first thing I noticed was the large neck muscles it has, it must have amazing upper body strength. I like the cautious glance he gave you as you took this shot, almost like "I dare you to come any closer".
The detail, exposure and color is superb and the crop is very attractive. I read your notes and can say I learned a few things about the Spotted Hyena that I didn't know, such as their clan numbers can run from 5 to 90 individuals. Great job!!

  • Great 
  • pegos Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 222 W: 0 N: 356] (1982)
  • [2011-11-12 10:58]

This image is fantastic, Peter!
Great sharpness and fine detail. Nice colours and splendid light. A real beauty! Very well done!

Ciao Peter, great portrait of lovely Hyena, fantastic details , wonderful natural colors and splendid sharpness, very well done, my friend, have a good week end, ciao Silvio

Ciao Peter. Sharp and details are perfetc MF!. Excellent DOF too for the expressive Hyena.


Hi Peter,

Fantastic picture of this Hyna with good details & sharpness.
Taken from a good POV & great light. The note is interesting. Hyna's have very strong jaws too.
Well done & TFS.

Excellent photo of the hyena and a good inside into its character. Good detail and light and interesting pose.
regards yiannis

Hi Peter,
I don't like this animal. But I have to tell you that I like this photo. Perfect portrait. A lot of details.
Have a nice Sunday,

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2011-11-12 15:26]

Hi Peter,great portrait of this running iena,it was a lucky meeting and you caught the moment very well,i like the work and the perfect sharpness and colors.Have a nice Sunday and thanks,Luciano.

Hello Peter friend!
Like a picture of Natgeo! ... As Good As It! ... Congratulations!
I like a lot this shot!
Happy Sunday MF!

Impressive portrait Peter! Very good composition, wonderful colours and very good sharpness.

Hello Peter,
A very nice and sharp picture of this Spotted Hyena, excellent details, great point of view and very good composition, very well taken,
Thanks for sharing and have a nice week,
Best Regards,

Hello Peter,
Very good picture for mammals.
Mammals takeing photo is very difficult I know.
Well done.
Have a good week dear friend.

Hi Peter,
excellent portrait of this Spotted Hyena, good work!
TFS & best regards

Hi Peter,
And what a fantastic image of this beautiful Hyena. If you look at the neck you can see the strong muscles of sheer power. Fantastic detail and clarity. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week.

Impresionante enfoque y luz, sacándole un gran partido a esa lente.
Saludos Peter: J. Ignasi.

Hi Peter,
Perfect focus and well contrast picture. Lovely presentation. Very well done.

Bonjour Peter,
Très beau et expressif portrait finement détaillé dans une lumière bien maîtrisée.
A bientôt sur TN pour de nouvelles aventures.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2011-11-14 7:36]

Hello Peter,
A great portrait taken in the wild of the Spotted Hyena.
The head is shown with top sharpness, from an optimum POV and with excellent natural colours in this pleasing composition.
Thanks and have a good week,

Hello Peter,
I like this Hyena shot with fine close framing. Sweet focus and very sharp exposure of the details.
Thanks and kind regards,

Hello Peter

Beautiful portrait of the Spotted Hyena
with his expressive glance, with excellent
focus, sharpness and details, TFS


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