There are times in Africa when game department regulations make no sense; this is sometimes the case of quotas for different species. Part of the problem is the lack of good data and part is the bureaucracy, which often defines Africa. There was no quota for hyena in this concession; they had become over-populated and reduced the population of prey animals. Now they were desperate for food.
It was late in the Safari and Brenda was hunting leopard. They got a large male on bait, built a blind and looked for a “lunch tree” – to eat lunch and wait out the afternoon hours. About 4:00 p.m., the safari car drove slowly back to the blind and discovered two howling hyenas under the bait tree, lured there by the smell of the impala leg. Their hunger and the sense of food overwhelmed their fear of man. Brenda and Mauro, her PH, and one tracker, slipped into the blind and the safari car parked a few kilometers away. In the blind, they waited; hoping the hyenas would get smart enough to realize the bait wasn’t going to fall out of the tree. But there were too many hyenas in the concession
and not enough food; they continued to hang around.
A leopard isn’t afraid of a hyena. He probably cannot kill two of them in a fight, but might climb a tree to save his own life. Just at last light, he climbed the tree and stood on the limb over the bait. Brenda killed him cleanly and he fell to the ground, 40 yards from the blind.
Now things got more interesting; Mauro left Brenda in the blind and with his tracker ran quickly to the leopard. But the hyenas got there first and started pulling him apart. Mauro and his tracker chased after them, through the tall grass for nearly a hundred yards, with flashlights and a shotgun – following them by sound rather than sight. The hyenas would stop to eat, Mauro and his tracker would catch up, and the hyenas would grab the leopard and be off again; the chase went on for ten minutes until the safari car showed up and the hyenas moved off.
They had pulled the skin off one leg, and ripped out and eaten the contents of the stomach. It was a tense leopard hunt, and all because there were too many hyenas.