Hyena causes mayhem in Jozi traffic

2013-09-27 00:00

A YOUNG brown hyena caused consternation in Randburg’s peak morning rush hour yesterday.

Stephan Botha was in his car when the bewildered hyena ran across the busy Gordon Road at about 7 am.

“A security company’s car almost drove over the animal,” he said.

A group of cyclists had earlier spotted the five-month-old female at the Emmarentia dam.

Brett Morris, one of the cyclists, said they initially thought it was a dog and were amazed when they saw it was a hyena.

The young scavenger ran several kilometres from the dam through two parks to the Randburg traffic offices where representatives from animal rights groups and the Johannesburg zoo found her.

The panicked young cub kept running to the neighbouring suburb in Blairgowrie, where she finally could run no more and rested, panting heavily, in the street.

Residents of the suburb used their vehicles to block traffic to prevent the morning rush hour from running her over.

When a dart from veterinarian Brett Gardner found its mark on her rump, she got up to run again, but only managed a few steps to the pavement before succumbing to the sedation.

Gardner checked the animal and showed the rescuers her baby teeth. He said she was dehydrated after running in a blind panic for several hours. The pads on her paws were also bleeding after hours of running on tarred roads and would take time to heal, said Gardner.

Dr Brian Kuhn, animal and carnivore expert at the Institute of Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand, said brown hyenas were shy, reclusive animals and would not kill anything bigger than a rabbit.

Kuhn said brown hyenas lived on the West Rand at the Cradle of Mankind, but they constantly moved through Johannesburg and specifically the Melville Koppies nature reserve.

“Johannesburg is like a wood. It is very easy to move around without being spotted.”

Hy did not know how many hyenas scavenged a living in and around Johannesburg, but said an adult brown hyena and her cub were seen near the Kloofendal nature reserve on the West Rand and chased away by people. The mother and her baby were separated in the chase.

“We suspect we have now found the cub. We plan to make a timeline of the places where she was spotted since the weekend. If she is part of a cackle of hyenas, she must be returned to her natural environment.”

Kuhn said he would under no circumstances allow the animal to be put down.

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