A Group Hug And The Hyena

Hyena scans the horizon in Amboseli, Kenya

I don’t need a lot to happen in the bush for it to be mesmerizing. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that capture my attention, the basic behaviors that give me a rush. I love the feeling of being dropped into another world and having the privilege of watching the normal day-to-day like a fly on the wall.

One afternoon in Amboseli we saw a small group of bulls gather into a huddle, their trunks curving and writhing like an octopus’ tentacles as they explored each others’ mouths, eyes and ears. It was as if they were channeling Helen Keller and this was the only way that they could see each other.

Elephants exchange a group hug in Amboseli, Kenya

Then a hyena appeared, walking across the grass parallel to the elephants, her stride very purposeful, she was obviously on a mission.

Behind us, far enough away that we needed strong binoculars to see it, a pride of lions fed on an elephant carcass. If the wind blew in our direction the stench of the remains hit us like a smack in the face. We thought for sure the scavenger would be lured by the possibility of a meal. The hyena sniffed the air then looked in the direction of the lions but she stayed on course, her destination unknown.

Elephant and hyena in Amboseli, Kenya

When the elephants finished their group hug, two walked towards the lions (more on that story in a future post), leaving the third bull to continuing grazing by his lonesome. Was the huddle an elaborate goodbye? An elephant “See ya later?” Hmmmmm…

Hyena walks across the plains in Amboseli, Kenya

I know, I know, the scene wasn’t particularly dramatic: no kills, no fights, nothing that Nat Geo would waste precious video on.  It was just a tiny slice of life in the animal kingdom and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.


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