Giraffe mother chasing hyenas away from her calf’s carcass:
A video taken by tracker Eric on the 25 of March 2016 of a giraffe mother chasing feeding hyenas away from the carcass of her calf. This sighting was in the southern side of our traversing area that is home to a clan of about 10 to 15 hyenas. They are often only regarded as scavengers, but are excellent hunters in their own right. They would disperse at sunset either alone or in small groups of up to 3 individuals. Hyenas have incredible endurance and can chase their prey for 5 km at speeds of up to 60 km/h. Upon discovering lions at a kill they would make their characteristic laughing and whooping sounds to call for reinforcement in order to try and intimidate their arch enemies into leaving their hard-earned kill.
These highly intelligent animals are capable of complex cooperation during hunting and they would have worried and distracted the giraffe mother while she was trying to protect her calf. The maternal instinct of animals are very strong and I have often seen giraffe mothers loitering around lion kills as they were devouring her calves. They would watch from a safe distance of 100 to 200 meters away obviously trying to make sense of the situation and hoping for a miracle. This situation is no different. One’s heart goes out to the grieving mother trying to guard the carcass, although one must guard against anthropomorphism which is the attribution of human emotion onto animals. The argument that animals experience emotions is sometimes rejected due to a lack of evidence and that anthropomorphism played a role in individuals’ perspectives. There would also often be referred to inconsistencies in studies that have endorsed animal emotions.
In recent years, though, the scientific community has become increasingly supportive of the idea of emotions in animals. Scientific research has provided insight into similarities of physiological changes between human and non-human animals when experiencing emotion. Recent attempts in studying emotions in animals have also led to new constructions in experimental and information gathering.
Whatever your believes are, there is no doubt that the giraffe mother chasing hyenas away is interesting and evokes a lot of emotion in us as humans.