Hunting Hyena in Africa

Hunting Spotted Hyena in Africa

The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) is a species of hyena native to sub-Saharan Africa.  It is sometimes called the laughing hyena due to the sounds it makes similar to human laughter.  When you are hunting spotted hyena in Africa and hear one for the first time, you will think there’s a crazy person out there in the bush.  The spotted hyena has the largest clan sizes and the most complex social manners of all the species.  Its social organization is more similar to baboons than carnivores.

The spotted hyena is very vocal, producing any number of sounds including grunts, groans, giggles, yells, whines, and its ubiquitous laugh.  When attacked by lions or dogs, it will defend itself aggressively.  The male spotted hyena stands 27-36 inches at the shoulder and weighs 90-120 pounds.  Females are larger at 97 to 141 pounds.  Exceptional specimens can weigh upwards of 200 pounds.

The skull of the spotted hyena is much larger than other hyena species.  Combined with its large jaw muscles it can exert over 1,000 pounds per square inch of biting force.  Spotted hyenas have been observed cracking open giraffe bones to get at the marrow.

The species dwells in partially deserted areas, open woodlands, dense dry woodlands, and mountainous forests up to 11,000 feet in altitude. It is scarce or absent in rain forests and coastal areas. Its preferred habitats in western Africa include the Guinea and Sudan savanna, and it is absent in the belt of dense coastal forest. In the Namib desert, spotted hyena occur in riverine growth along seasonal rivers, the pro-Namib and the adjoining inland plateau. In ideal habitats, the spotted hyena outnumbers other large carnivores, including other hyena species. However, the striped and brown hyenas occur at greater densities than the spotted species in desert and semi-desert regions. 

Territory size varies dependent on location.  In the Ngorengoro Crater in Tanzania, the spotted hyena’s range is roughly 25 square miles, while in the Kalahari Desert, their range can be as much as 600 square miles.  Clans are very defensive of their territories.  The defend through vocal displays, scent marking and perimeter patrols.

Spotted hyena groups are known as clans.  These clans can contain up to eighty individuals of both sexes. Females are dominant.  Even the lowliest female is dominant over all the males.  Spotted hyena clan dominance is passed on down through the female side of the family; dominant mother passes responsibility down to daughter. 

Spotted hyenas can breed any time of the year, but it is more common during the rainy season.  Gestation length varies, but averages around 110 days after which one to four cubs are born.  Cubs are born with their eyes open, and will attack each other shortly after birth.  The weaker cubs are killed.  Survival rates for cubs vary, but only 75% live through the first month.  Spotted hyenas reach sexual maturity in three years.  Life expectancy in the wild is 7 to 9 years.

Hyena Firearm Recomendations

The rifle to use when hunting spotted hyena in Africa is the same rifle used for plains game hunting.  Anything in the .270-.300 caliber range will work well.  Shot placement should be right behind the shoulder and one-third of the way up the body.  The methods used when hunting spotted hyena in Africa are stalking, spotting and walking, or the more productive method is to use bait and build a blind.  The sex of spotted hyenas can be very hard to determine.  If there are other hyenas around when hunting spotted hyena in Africa, look for the one with the largest head.  Trophy judgement is based on skull size, so take the largest one you can find.