One of the first drives I did after my leave, I went Ikuka in Ruaha NP and it is highly recommended, was with Matt and Natasha. We decided to make our way down to Lake Tagalala and Lake Nyamaruba looking for whatever would come along. It turned out to be a very pleasant morning and we had some great sightings and experiences but the one that stands out was after our breakfast.
Bumbling along we noticed some vultures and a Bateleur Eagle sitting in a tree with about eight Spotted Hyenas lurking around underneath it. Obviously we went in to investigate what was the attraction to all of them. On approach a big male Yellow Baboon fled the scene, leaving us a bit puzzled as to what the situation was. While we were looking around the carcass of an Impala fawn was spotted up in one of the Short-Thorn Clusterleave trees. And so it all began to make sense, the baboon was the likely killer of the young Impala and the others were waiting for the opportunity for a meal.
As the baboon had left, the Hooded Vultures quickly moved in to feed, in the mean time most of the hyenas moved off to shadier spots as it was getting quite hot by then, but one or two still lingered hopeful of scraps. By now more vultures started to arrive, drawn by the activity of scavengers on the ground. Two of the White-Backed Vultures quickly pushed away the Hooded Vulture (White- Backs are bigger and thus more dominant) and started feeding eagerly. But their greediness was punished as they dislodged their meal from the branch it was perched on and it dropped down to the ground where one of the hyenas grabbed it.
As the first hyena tried to make off with its prize it was quickly followed by two others and a race ensued. Eventually the followers caught up and after a scuffle a younger/smaller, but clearly more dominant, hyena made off with the spoils. Hyenas have a very hierarchical society where young females obtain the rank just below their mother’s, so that is how a much younger individual can dominate a group of older members of the same clan.
After this great sighting we found evidence of two more young impala caught by baboons, something that is not unusual as the youngsters are easy to catch and a good source of protein for the big male baboons.