Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hyaena People of Nigeria

Photographer Pieter Hugo writes:
"A few weeks later I was on a plane to Lagos. Abiola met me at the airport and together we took a bus to Benin City where the ‘hyena men’ had agreed to meet us. However, when we got there they had already departed for Abuja. In Abuja we found them living on the periphery of the city in a shantytown - a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons. It turned out that they were a group of itinerant minstrels, performers who used the animals to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines. The animal handlers were all related to each other and were practicing a tradition passed down from generation to generation"

Photo Credits: Pieter Hugo
According to the Hyaena Specialist Group in their article The Truth About Hyaenas: debunking hyaena myths:

"Although a few people in Africa and Asia find very young hyaenas in nature and raise them as pets, these animals generally appear to be extremely unhappy as “domestic companions” as adults, and must often be kept muzzled at all times so that they do not harm people or property.

A muzzle prevents the hyaena from being able to groom itself properly. As spotted hyaenas need several years of practice to become proficient hunters, and as they are deprived of this practice when reared as pets, it is effectively a death sentence for a captive-reared hyaena to be released into the wild.

In addition, pet hyaenas cannot be released for fear that they might transfer new pathogens from captive environments into the wild. Upon reaching adulthood, many "pet" hyaenas must therefore be euthanized."



  1. This post and the post about caracal confirm to me that cats are not supposed to be pets. I am scared of cats. There is something about cats. Hyaena may be a kind of its own but I feel they are still cat related.

    I believe there are animals designed to be domesticated but there are animals should be left in the wild.

    Your pictures and posts again are a discovery. Thank you.

  2. ... and thank you too OG ...

    Being a person who has always lived with cats it's difficult for me to comprehend your fear of them.

    ... however, I can relate to what you're saying because my mother cannot handle any rodent, bird or other small animal - I recall an incident in my childhood when she suddenly started screaming, ran into the bedroom and jumped onto the bed, followed by myself and two brothers - we had no idea what we were running from ...

    ... it turned out that she had seen a mouse ... quite funny now but at the time we were scared out of our wits ...

  3. very true,like you wrote -its purely for entertainment and they move about from state to state doing so.
    seen them a couple of times myself...and i don't play with wild animals except dogs

  4. What a wondrous place the world is and your blog contributes to my sense of it. Thanks for introducing me to so many things-animals, plants, lifestyles-I was previously unaware of.

  5. Thank you for your kind comment nothingprofound ... also for your visit ...

  6. Thanks for your comment mk akan ... I just love their outfits - so cool ...

  7. Incredible - and a little bit creepy, too .... amazing photo's and the hyenas do look quite healthy and cared for. They happen to be my husband's favourite wild animal, and I am told they are not the scavengers we are all led to believe they are, but quite accomplished hunters. We've had them quite close to our farmhouse here at night - I love their distinctive call (& of course the locals reckon they are withdoctors in disguise & completely 'evil'!)

  8. Thanks Lynda - yes, there seem to be many myths about Hyaenas ... sadly, according to the quoted source, keeping them in captivity is ultimately a death sentence for them ...

    ... ohhhh please get some pics if you can ... do you ever see them during the day?

  9. Took me time to read the whole article, the article is great but the comments bring more brainstorm ideas, thanks.

    - Johnson