Today, we made our way to our final camp, Abu, known for the herd of elephants they care for. The elephants, all orphaned or rescued from circus life, are cared for and protected by special handlers and knowledgeable guides.
However, they’re not at all like zoo animals. They follow a natural elephant herd migration pattern where they interact with wild elephants and graze freely during the day, returning to camp at night. This keeps the ecosystem as well as the elephants as close to natural as possible. (Well…mostly natural. The Abu elephants also learn a lot about humans, as you can see.)
Visitors to Abu can walk or ride with the elephants twice daily as they make their way to and from their grazing places. How cool is that?!
That evening, we drove out to try and find one animal on our checklist that we hadn’t yet seen: the hyena. Now, The Lion King gave me a clear picture of hyenas as nasty, slavering knuckleheads, but when we stumbled on a den of cubs, I had to change my mind. These little fellas are pretty darn cute.
Females are dominant among the species, and they are pseudo-hermaphrodites with a false penis. They select their mates. This brother and sister are play-fighting by their mother’s side to practice these behavior patterns. If the two babies were both females, one would kill the other to ensure her dominance.
Hyenas have much bigger front legs than back. Their huge shoulders help them drag large pieces of meat, but also mean they have a hard time jumping.
So, yes, hyenas can be vicious, and their laughter is creepy. But they also clean up everybody else’s mess, and keep the land clean by eating bones – so many bones that their feces are white. We’ve gotta be thankful for that.