Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Then and Now

After two years, I am finally back in Serena camp. I was out here from May 2013 – May 2014 as a research assistant in Serena. I’m now here as a graduate student. I arrived in Kenya almost two months ago, but I spent my first two months in Talek and last week I finally got to return to Serena. Seeing all the places I became so intimately familiar two years ago was amazing and surreal. I finally feel like I’m really home again!

Even more than the camp and the landscape, it’s been exciting to identify hyenas that I knew before. I wasn’t sure how many spots I remember but so far I’ve been able to correctly ID on the first try quite a few hyenas! (Including some of my favorites). Some hyenas have passed away, and some hyenas that were little cubs are now ragged looking adults, and of course there are a ton of new cubs and subadults to learn!
ARRO with her cub KATH (about 6-7 weeks old).
KATH when she was a little black cub about 3-4 weeks old.
ARRO (Arrow) was an adult female in the North clan when I was out here. Before I left she had two tiny little black cubs, one of which was KATH (Kathleen Hanna). ARRO’s lineage was “punk rock artists”.
KATH today, a subadult hyena at 2 1/2 years old.

Now, KATH is a fully grown hyena! Even though she’s still only two years old she’s already starting to fade and lose her spots.

BSCT, a cub in South Clan at 14 weeks old. 
BSCT (Sea Biscuit) was one of my favorite little cubs. She was BLG’s (Bellagio) first cub and I got to give BLG her lineage, famous race horses.

BSCT when she was about 5 months old. 

BSCT always had fairly small, nondescript spots. Now as a subadult she was hard for me to ID!

Today, BSCT is almost 3 years old. 
 Can you match BSCT’s spots as a subadult to her cub photo? Her mom BLG, now has two new little race horses: PHRH (American Pharoah) and AMRL (War Admiral).

BLG with her current cubs AMRL (nursing, left) and PHRH (right).
SLIN, an adult female in South Clan. 
SLIN (Slinky) was a pretty mean looking adult female hyena in South Clan even when I was out here. Now, she’s lost one of her ears making her look quite intimidating!! You can still match her ear damage from a few years ago to her ear damage today on her left ear however.

SLIN today, missing one ear.
DETH when she was a cub with her mom KOMO in South Clan at 7 weeks of age.
DETH (Death Star) is part of the “space ships” lineage. She was also a cute little black cub when I was out here. This is another lineage that I started as she and FYRE (Firefly) were KOMO’s (Komodo) first kids. KOMO is the daughter of JAVA, South Clan’s alpha female. JAVA’s lineage theme is “places in Indonesia”.

DETH today is almost 3 years old. 
Now, DETH has some wicked ear damage making her very easy to recognize, and also making her look like a much older! 

BOOM and her cub RUMG (JLYR's younger sibling). 
BOOM (Boomerang) was an adult female in the Happy Zebra Clan when was out here. She was one of the alpha female’s (PIKE) daughters. All of PIKE’s kids are named after ancient weapons. BOOM was a great mom and had two little cubs as well as two subadults kids while I was out here. All of her kids were named after “things pirates say”.

JLYR when she was 1 year old.
JLYR (Jolly Roger) was one of the first hyenas I learned to ID because she had a big target on left her side. She was a super playful subadult hyena. Today, BOOM is gone, presumably dead, but JLYR now has some really cute cubs of her own! JLYR’s lineage is “female pirates” and her first cub is OMLY (Grace O’Malley).
JLYR today (almost 4 years old) with her cub OMLY.
OMLY, JLYR's first cub and BOOM's grandcub.
OMLY is a little pirate queen!

NAV when she was 21 years old.
NAV (Navajo) was an ancient hyena on the Talek half of the park when I was here and I got to see her once. She was already a record setting female at 21 years of age. Now, she’s 23 and still hanging in there!
NAV today at 23 years old.
ANTJ when he was about 10.5 weeks old. 
ANTJ when he was 19 weeks old.
ANTJ (Aunt Jemima) was one of WAFL’s (Waffles) newest cubs born when I was out here before. WAFL is the alpha female of North Clan so he was a little prince. Now he’s a full grown beautiful adult hyena! 
ANTJ today at almost 3 years old.
SHTR (Shoot Her!) is one of TREX’s kids and part of the “Jurassic park quotes” lineage. Dave Green and I started TREX’s lineage.

TREX nursing CLEV while SHTR rests on top of mom.
SHTR was the subordinate cub in her litter (her sister was CLEV or Clever Girl) and CLEV often prevented SHTR from nursing. I was worried she wouldn’t make it but she’s still here two years later!

SHTR when she was about 12 weeks old.
SHTR today at almost 3 years old.
It’s been a lot of fun matching my memories of little cubs to these full grown hyenas and seeing how some hyenas are still the same (e.g. NAV). Mostly, it’s great to be back out here seeing the hyenas just being hyenas and raising their families!

Two young subadult hyenas taking a nap in classic hyena style.
At the Happy Zebra Den 2016. 

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science