Sunday, December 22, 2013

Creature Feature #67: Brown Hyena

Ever since I read the wonderful "Cry of the Kalahari" in my younger days, I have been fascinated by the Brown Hyena. I also saw a lovely documentary called "Survivors of the Skeleton Coast".

Hyenas have always been quite difficult for me to draw - with their short, round muzzles that are not quite cat-like, but not precisely dog-like either, somewhere in between. Despite their social structure, they are more akin to cats or civets. I am intending to draw all of the four hyena species - the other two being the spotted and the striped. The spotted will feature in "H" for "Hyena", as it is the species everyone immediately identifies with the word "hyena". The Aardwolf was #2.

The Brown Hyena lives almost solely on scavenged food, stealing it with some ferocity from lone leopards or cheetah. Her sense of smell is particularly powerful - and she can scent dead things from 2km downwind. Social in nature, she lives in a "clan" with a distinct social hierachy, particularly among the females. Clans do not maintain territories, and hyena forage alone, congregating together at the end of their hunting night. Normally it is only the alpha female that breeds, often mating with a nomadic male, although the males of her own clan help protect and raise the cubs. If a non-alpha gives birth, the alpha assists with her offspring and even orphans are well cared for and raised by the clan.

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