PHOTOS: Brown hyenas living in Namibian ghost town

2016-10-27 15:51
Picture supplied by: Brown Hyena Research Project

Picture supplied by: Brown Hyena Research Project

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Windhoek - These beautiful photos show brown hyenas in the dens they have made in abandoned mines and ghost towns in Namibia.

In one, ageing hyena "Obelixa" dozes inside the dusty shade of what was once a casino, enjoying a late morning nap.

In another, an unbelievably fluffy cub, his brown coat tinged toffee, peers out from a mine entrance.

See the pictures here

The photos were posted by the Brown Hyena Research Project. Its founder Dr Ingrid Wiesel says she's first studied hyenas in the Elizabeth Bay ghost town area of southern Namibia in 2001.

Her research has been concentrated on hyena dens in Elizabeth Bay in the southern Namib desert. Camera traps have also been set up in Mining Area 1 which is situated further south. 

Parts of the the area are still actively mined for diamonds but some mines are being dismantled. 
Hyenas have made dens in one such area, Wiesel told News24.

More detailed study 

She said: "We knew from ministry of environment and tourism personnel, other researchers, film makers and mining personnel that a specific building had been used as a den site [in Elizabeth Bay] before I even started studying in the area."

"We monitored the building occasionally. However, we found other natural dens in the area that were also used."

"Once we started with a more detailed study in 2009, we found many more dens inside the old mining town. The animals were predominately using old pipe or drainage systems as their dens."

"Most such dens we found through analysing our GPS collar and telemetry data, others through mapping the area for hyena signs," Wiesel said.

As part of the project, Wiesel has collared eight brown hyenas

Beautiful female Obelixa, seen near the casino where she has been raising what may well turn out to be her last two cubs, is around 14, says Wiesel.


"I captured and collared Obelixa for the first time in 2009. She is the main breeding female of the Elizabeth Bay clan. She has raised many cubs. I think that she will not live for that much longer any more," she said.

In fact, the hyenas don't often den inside the buildings but very close by. They obviously slip in and out of them as the photos show.

Wiesel says that the old buildings and mine structures offer protection from the elements, as well as protection for the cubs from other predators.

"Brown hyenas like to use existing structures although they are well capable of digging their own dens. But they will use for example aardvark burrows in the Kalahari, so similarly they use existing 'structures' such as abandoned man made objects here," she said.

It's not just brown hyenas that find the old buildings perfect shelters. Jackals like them too. But if a hyena comes along to claim the den, the jackal finds it prudent to move out.

Wiesel added:"But hyenas seem to be able to share dens with porcupines."

Unusual den-mates. But then maybe the prickles have something to do with it?

Read more on:    namibia  |  southern africa  |  animals

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.