From High: Spotted Hyaena 

 (Illustration from Man and Beast in Eastern Ethiopia, Internet Archive.)

We saw our hyaenas in the best way possible: from above. I was amazed at how plentiful they were, and the nonchalant way in which they loped between the herds of topi and other herd animals, who did not seem bothered by their presence.

 Traveling by balloon is an uplifting experience. I was very apprehensive beforehand, not being comfortable with heights. Especially since it took two starts to get the thing inflated and off the ground! This meant having to deflate it completely, start the blowers again, then the burners, then turn the basket upright, stabilize, and finally embark. Though we were sardine-packed in the basket, it did not feel claustrophobic. The wind was calm and  and we skimmed the treetops, scouting for wildlife. It felt incredibly calm and open. That there was wind was fortunate- we spied a balloon the next day hanging stationary, unable to go anywhere- and then it started to rain!

 The hyena gets a bad rap, which is unfair. They are extremely successful and very necessary. And quite attractive!

(Hyena Myths and Reality, Stephen J. Gould)


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