Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The hyena feeder of Harar, Ethiopia
Hyenas are feared and despised in Ethiopia...blamed for killing livestock and, reportedly, drunken individuals who sleep on the streets at night.
But in the walled city of Harar, in the east, there is a symbiotic relationship with hyenas. Some mosques prepare porridge for the animals as part of an annual festival If the main hyena leader doesnt eat, its a sign of bad times to come. If he/she eats that means good times are ahead.
In the last 20-30 years, some men have become known through tv coverage for feeding hyenas meat by the city walls. Its become a tourist attraction.
Yusuf is one of the 2 main hyena feeders. He calls them by name and seems to know their habits pretty well.
I met an Australian researcher when I came to take a look...he is written his phd thesis on Harar's relationship with hyenas.
Pretty bizarre to see these predatory animals so close up.