Who has never dreamed of Maasai Mara?
My dream became real and even better that I have ever fantasised before. I had the great opportunity to receive field training at the Mara Hyena Project, in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. This opportunity was amazing, as I was trained in the observation of hyena behaviour, radio tracking, procedures for immobilizing spotted hyenas and basic ecological monitoring methods. Basically, it helped me to improve my knowledge to set up an effective study of spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta).
The first time I saw a hyena was at early morning, before sunrise, at the den, where some cubs came out after the arrival of one adult hyena. Male or female? Impossible, only when she started feeding them I realized she was a female indeed. Sexing hyenas for the first time is quite complicated due to their shared elongated phallus.
The experience of being close to a hyena clan with more than 50 members is inexplicable. Although up to 90 individuals, all clan members are rarely, if ever, found together in one place. Instead, individuals are found in group mates along their home range. It is at the den where one can see most of the clan members and the complex interactions between them, which undoubtedly teach us about the evolution of sociality and intelligence.
In addition to this peculiar carnivore, this majestic landscape offers the viewer an astonishing wildlife spectacle, in the same view one can see numerous species of herbivorous such as African buffalo, African elephant, grant gazelle, giraffe, Thomson gazelle and topi. Black-backed jackal, cheetah and lion are also easy to find in the area.
Therefore, I would always be deeply grateful to Professor Kay E. Holekamp and the Mara Hyena Project for this amazing opportunity. Now it is time for the next adventure in Sibiloi National Park in northern Kenya.