It’s not often that we get directly involved and lend a helping hand to wildlife, but when we do, it’s often because the animal has been harmed due to human conflict.
A few weeks ago, Nsefu Camp in South Luangwa National Park received a radio call from a guide who was out on a game drive with guests. They had found a distressed spotted hyena with a huge wound on her neck. It looked like she had a snare caught around her throat but they couldn’t really tell for certain.
The team at Nsefu immediately radioed the office to inform the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP) team. Our scout was on standby ready to help, and Ben and Mwamba from ZCP came up as quickly as possible. When they arrived at Nsefu, we headed straight out to find her, and after a little search, she was located at the nearby Croc River.
After a discussion on how best to dart the hyena, Mwamba aimed his dart gun and fired into the thigh of the hyena. She jumped up and ran out of the riverbed onto the open Wafwa, but her legs soon gave way and she collapsed. The puku and impala grazing on the plain looked rather puzzled at the unconscious hyena lying in front of them. After waiting a few minutes to ensure the drug was effective, we approached the hyena. Mwamba and Ben went to her first and put a handkerchief over her eyes to protect them from the sun. Then they examined the wound.
It looked very deep and the snare was in there. Taking swift action, Ben and Mwamba cut the snare off with a pair of pliers, disinfected the wound and injected some antibiotics.
They then measured her body temperature and her size. They also took some hair, a blood sample and a few pictures for their database. Once everything was recorded, Ben poured water over the hyena to keep her cool and Mwamba injected an antidote to wake her up.
Despite the deep wound, Mwamba and Ben are sure that she will make a full recovery. Hyenas are tough creatures and have got a very strong healing system.
May she be spared of yet another incident like this in the future!