(Latin = Crocuta crocuta, Afrikaans = Gevlekte Hiena, German = Gefleckte Hyene)
Numbers: Fairly high
Weight: 49 - 80kg (108 - 176 lb.)
Shoulder height: 80m (32.)
Found in warmer areas, such as the north and north eastern parts of the Northern Province and Mpumalanga, especially in the Limpopo valley and in the whole of the Lowveld, as well as in the most northern areas of the Kalahari-areas of the North Cape, and in a patch of the far north-eastern midland in KwaZulu-Natal, much the same territory of the hyena's biggest enemy, the Lion.
This much underestimated animal was previously considered to be the ash-tray of the bush, sharing the cleaning up job with the jackals and vultures of the bush. By it's shadowy and uneven profile, it's awkward gallop, it's cowardly challenge-change-to-flight habit (in case of a lion's attention), it's hysterical laughter and association with second hand corpses, the spotted hyenas is portrayed by many as the maniac of the African field. Only later did it came to light that the spotted hyenas hunt just as much, and often even more, as the lions do. Lions will even wait for the hyenas to do the killing, after which they will move in and take the free meal by fear and force from the hyenas. The whining of hungry hyenas waiting impatiently for the irritated lions to finish their meal, is one of the most interesting settings a tourist can wish to encounter. As the lions are eating, the number of vultures, foxes and hyenas will grow, making for one of those very tense and noisy situations where nerve and danger are stretched to the limit. Sometimes, by sheer power in numbers, the hyenas will challenge the lions for a portion of the meal, hastily assembled by the hyenas gruesome jaws. It may even attack a lion from the back, where the dual between the hyena's jaw and the lion's paw usually, but not always, ends in favour of the paw. Beware of this prowling creature, for when any prey, which may include sleeping people or wandering children, are without protection, the hyena might launch an unexpected attack.