These misunderstood animals are given little love and plenty of hatred leading to their silent suffering and loss. Spotted hyenas are not scavengers, but hunt down at least 50% of their own food. Loosely based on spotted hyenas of sub-Saharan Africa, they are out and out villains, totally evil, cowardly and aggressive. Unusually high levels of testosterone during early development could make their genitalia develop in this unusual way. Spotted hyenaThe spotted hyena is the largest species, and it grows to 4 to 5.9 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) long an… CT scan tests have compared hyena brains with those of some primates and revealed astounding results. A fully grown spotted hyena can be between 28 to 35 inches tall. The article here discusses why it is time we stop misunderstanding the hyenas and shower some attention and tenderness to these wild beasts. Involved in the rescue of hyenas from various conflict situations, the concerned team of Wildlife SOS also faces numerous practical challenges during the rescue operations which reveal a lot about the plight of the striped hyenas and people's judgment of these animals. Although hyenas appear similar to dogs, they are actually more closely related to cats. The Hyena family is usually looked down upon by the majority. Spotted hyenas vary in their folkloric and mythological depictions, depending on the ethnic group from which the tales originate. The myths surrounding hyenas are that witches ride hyenas. A couple of weeks ago, she came by our house and started ranting about hyenas and what evil, good-for-nothing creatures they are. In Tanzania and India legends say that witches ride hyenas. Hyenas are tireless trotters with excellent sight, hearing, and smell for locating carrion, and they are … One of the most oft-touted tropes about hyenas is that they are scavengers, stealing most of their food from more upstanding species like lions and (according to Pliny the Elder) sometimes even digging up graves in search of human corpses. About 12 to 6 million years back, the Hyaenids were much diverse with around 24 species with a sprawling range through Eurasia and Africa. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed hyena parts were effective shields against evil and ensured fertility. Later, Scar meets with the hyena… There are four species in the hyena family, and they vary in size. The lack of scientific research studies and reliable census data on these animals speaks volumes about our indifference towards them. View image of A spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) (Credit: Heather Paul, CC by 2.0), View image of Spotted hyenas will often tackle herds of zebras (Credit: Uwe Skrzypczak / Alamy), far larger brains than the other two species, View image of Hyenas live in big packs and are very social (Credit: blickwinkel / Alamy), View image of This female hyena (right) has an erect pseudopenis (Credit: Danita Delimont / Alamy), View image of This female hyena doesn't exactly look impressed (Credit: blickwinkel / Alamy), View image of Any questions? In western African tales, spotted hyenas are sometimes depicted as bad Muslims who challenge the local animism that exists among the Beng in Côte d’Ivoire To the uninitiated, there is something undeniably sinister about this call, particularly when it comes in the pitch darkness of an African night. "There is no population, anywhere in Africa, where they don't hunt down at least 50% of their own food," says spotted hyena expert Kay Holekamp of Michigan State University in East Lansing, US. Sad enough that the rest carelessy obeys. Moreover, the fact that the hind legs of hyenas are shorter than their forelegs giving them an awkward appearance, allow humans to label them as dim-witted, manipulative creatures. Seen as malicious, devilish, and often associated with witchcraft, hyenas have been widely misrepresented in culture, folklore, and even in movies," he exclaimed. In Africa, the overlap of range between the striped hyenas, spotted hyenas, and aardwolf often make surveys increasingly difficult as few people know how to differentiate these species. The hyenas are then seen present during the final battle against Scar as Scar and the hyenas corner Simba with Scar explaining to him that if he is really a true king or not before trying to fall off the ledge in despondency. by WhatDoWeHaveHere » November 16th, 2015, 1:13 am Okay, so maybe the hyenas aren't evil considering they've been banned from the pride lands and are desperate for resources, mainly food, resulting in pretty low living standards. Working in the Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania back in the 1970s, zoologist Hans Kruuk found that the lions scavenged spotted hyena kills more often than the other way round. Over the years, we have seen some terrible situations, where the hyenas were so violently attacked that they ended up with severe head trauma and ruptured eyes. Despite our best efforts, the hyena succumbed to its injuries. One of their calls is the famous "whoop". People are always curious to get a closer look at the animal and they try to take pictures of it while the rescue operation is being carried out. Which Countries Were First To Elect Women Leaders? That is wrong, at least for spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). Countries That Don't Recognize Dual Citizenship. So whether you’re a future king or an average joe, sit … The clitoris is enormously elongated to form this fully erectile pseudopenis. In the first movie, the trio were voiced by Shinsuke Kasai, … I don't mean they are bad in the way a Disney villain normally is, they are a force of evil more than a specie of animal, corrupting both the land and the minds of animals than get close to them. More often than not, they hunt down their prey rather than scavenge. Across cultures and continents, folklores have also often depicted hyenas as brutish creatures to be shunned at all costs. Some claim the hyenas rid Harar of evil spirits (or jinn), and that they clean away the rotting garbage strewn across its streets. All maps, graphics, flags, photos and original descriptions © 2020 worldatlas.com. With such an unsavoury history, it’s no surprise pop culture depictions of hyenas have followed suit. An Ethiopian folk religion tells of people who possess the evil eye and can change themselves into the creatures. "In a recent incident, an approximately 3-year-old male striped hyena was brutally attacked in a village in Uttar Pradesh and brought to Wildlife SOS’ center for treatment. A couple of weeks ago, she came by our house and started ranting about hyenas and what evil, good-for-nothing creatures they are. When the same milk-laden animal welcomed a fellow clan member with a massive phallic erection, you might feel less certain. So unique, in fact, that for centuries people assumed the spotted hyena had to be a hermaphrodite. Except for the striped hyena that has a wider distribution, the remaining three species are limited to Africa. The highest ranking female gets first dibs on any kills, which helps her to reproduce more quickly and successfully than females further down the pecking order. But to those who understand spotted hyenas, it is simply an effective way for them to establish and maintain contact with each other over a distance. Spotted hyena clans can contain up to 130 individuals, more than an order of magnitude greater than any other carnivore. "The clitoris is enormously elongated to form this fully erectile pseudopenis through which they urinate, copulate and give birth," says Holekamp. Some folk religion tells people who possess the evil eye and can change themselves into the creatures like the hyena. But these will often coalesce into huge aggregations. Their total population in India is yet to be determined. Hence, conservation of the hyenas also attracts spare attention. While hyenas might not understand what we say about them and feel insulted, our perception of these creatures has far-reaching, disastrous effects on their survival and ours as well. There is also a need to teach them appropriate measures to avoid such brutal conflicts," continued Satyanarayan. If you succumb to evil, your soul will be consumed. "That is something that is totally unique.". The hyenas in both cartoons serve an evil lion. Lions scavenged spotted hyena kills more often than the other way round. If this sounds like it might be uncomfortable, then just imagine what it's like to deliver a 1.5-kilogram foetus from the same orifice. Despicable. In the Disney movie the Lion King, Scar the evil lion ordered 3 hyenas. Probably none. This article is for my mother-in-law. Another big challenge is crowd control. Each hyena uses sounds, smells and visual cues to recognise others in their clan. According to Satyanarayan: "The striped hyena is an underrated species that deserves more conservation attention. Reality: Spotted hyenas deserve respect not contempt. If you saw a spotted hyena loping back to its den with clearly distended mammary glands, you would probably guess it was a female. The hyena's digestive system has adapted to maximize the nutritional value of animal remains; only the horns, hooves, and hair are regurgitated," informed Satyanarayan. Evil beings don't care if they have friends or not. Read about our approach to external linking. One possibility is that it helps the members of a clan recognise each other. The nocturnal, solitary, and elusive nature of these animals complicate things further. It is the largest among the three species of hyenas. 5 … The all-new movie, The Lion King, which Disney releases July 19, again portrays a trio of spotted hyenas as evil sidekicks of the villain Scar. In case you're wondering, I did not share any of this lurid detail with my mother-in-law. The spotted hyena is not a habitual scavenger, despite what you may have heard, and it is fabulously intelligent to boot. The chances of survival of the hyena appeared bleak as the animal had sustained severe spinal fracture leading to hind limb paralysis. They are protected under Schedule III of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 but not much research has been carried out about this elusive species. They are larger in size and more aggressive than their male counterparts. The hyena is a pathetic fool in The Lion King, but these feminist freaks are the brains of the savannah — and smarter than your average carnivore. In fact, they are members of the suborder Feliformia, which is a classification for cat-like carnivores, according to Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). They are supporting antagonists in the anime-only movies One Piece: The Movie and Clockwork Island Adventure. "Imagine trying to keep track of 130 different hyenas," says Holekamp. The Hyena Three are anime-only villains in the anime One Piece. While the masses continue to disregard the hyenas, those who have studied these animals in detail recognize them as social beings with high levels of intellect. Hyenas are often referred to as evil hermaphrodites, a myth that needs immediate dispelling. They are often depicted as either insane Ax-Crazy sadists, as stupid Dirty Cowards, as a horrific Monster Clown, or as the occasional Terrible Trio.The majority of the time, however, they're depicted as dirty, smelly Villainous Gluttons.These hyenas also have a fondness for laughing and a fear (and hatred) of lions. Then they whoop with laughter. Hyenas are frequently portrayed as evil in fiction. Each species of hyenas also have their distinct ecological roles. Spotted hyenas will often perform a "greeting ceremony": standing side-by-side and head-to-tail, each sniffing the erected phallus of the other. This makes sense because spotted hyenas are often found in very large, very fluid groups. In the musical, they are revealed to be one of the reasons the Pridelands has depleted, as they had forced the lionesses to overhunt. Naming those guilty of corruption as hyenas offered a way to paint profiteers as evil cowards, and government by implication as good heroes. But perhaps the strangest thing about female spotted hyenas is their reproductive anatomy. But to say that their external genitals are far-out is to put it mildly. "A healthy ecosystem depends on the balance between species, so the decline of an animal, especially one that plays such an important role in keeping an ecosystem clean and free of diseases should raise a modicum of alarm," he warned. Females dominate males and have no vaginal opening, but they do sport an impressive, fully erectile clitoris. They are also hermaphrodites, aren't they? Some tales describe how dark witches use hyenas as their mounts while others narrate how hyenas kidnap human children to feast on them. So, that sometimes human kill spotted hyenas for the same reason and sometimes for the self-defense. Hyenas are not all evil, just the leaders as it seems. Issues around keystone species such as the tiger or the elephant tend to get a bigger conservation platform," he stated. This group of four living species of feliform carnivores belonging to the Hyaenidae family has been left unloved by Homo sapiens throughout history. (Credit: imageBROKER / Alamy). Reports such as the ones mentioned above are not just common in India but in other parts of the hyena's range as well. Hyena Legends The hyena’s intense cunning, combined with its unnerving laughter, has caused hyenas to become associated with all manner of evil—hyenas are claimed to rob graves, steal children, and wield sinister supernatural powers. According to legend, the city’s thick perimeter walls were altered to give the animals easy access to Harar, allowing entry through small openings, or “hyena doors”. Illustrations that accompany the hyena’s story often portray it devouring a corpse. They are fabulously intelligent, with massive brains and one of the most complex social set-ups of any carnivore. "Striped hyenas play a very vital role in maintaining an ecosystem – apart from getting rid of biological waste by their scavenger habits; they also act as pest control. Reputation: Hyenas are ugly villains that only eat dead things, sometimes lions, sometimes even humans. Sad also, that this is one important part Scar's plan to become king. Hyenas have also beaten chimpanzees in some cooperative problem-solving tests. However, such a physiological adaptation actually makes the hyenas excellent endurance runners, allowing them to run long distances. They're freaky and they certainly help make Scar more evil overall. The female spotted hyena urinates, copulates and gives birth through her clitoris. Incidents such as this make it imperative for us to spread awareness about the species and sensitize the public to their plight, as they struggle to gain a foothold in the shrinking forests. But for those who have strived to know these animals up close and personal, they represent some of the finest of qualities in the Animal Kingdom. "That's quite a cognitive task but they seem able to do it just fine.". The smallest spotted hyena clans are about the same size as a big lion pride or big wild dog or wolf pack. The hyenas were featured in two spin-off books of The Lion King, set before the events of the original film.In A Tale of Two Brothers, the young hyenas appear at the beginning where they surround a helpless Rafiki who had just arrived in the Pride Lands. This stereotype, I suspect, may prevent us from seeing hyenas as they really are. "That confused people for a very, very long time," says Holekamp. Spotted hyenas also have far larger brains than the other two species, even controlling for their much larger skulls. This also revealed that spotted hyenas have particularly enlarged forebrains, the region involved with complex decision-making. But "nobody really understands yet quite what it's there for," says Holekamp. The hyena’s story in the bestiary is an allegory for the temptations of the devil and the importance of living a Christian life. The scavenger stereotype may apply to striped and brown hyenas, which both eat a lot more carrion, but it can hardly be attributed to an animal capable of taking down an adult wildebeest four times its size. But this seems a little over the top. All quite nasty, one would say! When Scar promised they'd never go hungry again, of course the hyenas would do anything he asked of them. (The Walt Disney Company is … Claw was Tom and Tab's supervisor while Scar was Shenzi, Banzai and Ed's supervisor. During sexual intercourse, this organ is flaccid but the male still has to insert his erect penis into the clitoris. The striped hyena's range stretches from North and East Africa to West and Central Asia, and further east to the Indian subcontinent. Most of these conflict situations arise due to fear and misconceptions about this species. A more likely alternative is that female hyenas have been naturally selected for their size and aggression. Similar to primates, the brain region associated with complex decision-making appears to be enlarged in hyena brains. Re: Are the hyenas evil? When the male hyena reaches sexual maturity at the age of two, he leaves home and goes to find a new group. The female appendage is a strange concept to get your head around, but there’s a perfectly natural biological reason for this. They are all part of the food chain that keeps the ecosystem in balance. IUCN estimates suggest that there are around 5,000 to 10,000 mature individuals of striped hyena species in the wild. In a way, this is understandable. It is also possible that such a bizarre reproductive tract gives a female some control over the father of her offspring. (The Walt Disney Company is majority owner of National Geographic Partners.Though spotted hyenas of East and southern Africa are the most … There are plenty of sordid myths and legends about hyenas. Brown and striped hyenas are the other two. If you kill a hyena, the witch will kill you through magic. "All it takes is a little brain power!". The laughing noise of the Spotted Hyena was found incredibly eerie and supported the beliefs of the native Africans that they could speak human language. It is unknown why the hyenas were forced to leave Pride Rock. The IUCN Hyaena Specialist Group is mapping the status of the striped hyenas that are now labeled as Near Threatened," he continued. Hyenas are supposed to bear their young in a witch's house, and the witch milks the hyena. Later, when Scar's cover is blown, the evil king orders the hyenas to kill all the other lions. A lot of very clever people have thought long and hard about precisely this question. Early on, the hyenas were seen as evil manipulative animals who had the ability to imitate humanspeech and lure out the poor victim to later eat it. Witches are believed to ride hyenas naked through the night carrying torches they refuel with hyena butter. This trio is definitely scarier, their high pitched laugh and maniacal behavior is absolutely unsettling at times and the Hyena army that ends up being created is reminiscent of a war movie. They are the allies of the evil uncle of the future lion king, Scar, and said to have wiped out all life in the land in which they live. The hostile nature between them and the lionesses would only be natural after years of holding a grudge, and with the drought setting in, tensions would only worsen. The Striped Hyena was believed to provide magic an… What Were the Main Causes of World War II? Given this, it should come as no surprise that the vocal repertoire of spotted hyenas is several times as rich as that of other hyenas, or for that matter, lions. If a hyena can recognise clan-mates by more conventional sensory means, does she really need a pseudopenis? We can’t get enough of those darn hyenas. Like a good son-in-law, I begged to differ. Internally, there's not much to set them apart from other mammals. How Many Types Of Hyenas Live In The World Today? However, they can be quite aggressive and vengeful when Scar puts the blame of his evil plot of them, which led to his demise at their jaws. Striped hyenas are no exception. "Hyena populations in India are far few and far in between, and there hasn’t been any official estimate of their numbers. Like the hyena in the graveyard, the devil is constantly circling. With valuable inputs from Wildlife SOS, a non-profit associated with the rescue, care, rehabilitation, and conservation of wildlife in India, the article also focusses on the conservation issues tormenting the striped hyena species in India. They’re sassy, evil, and punny, and those are three traits that we can get behind. "The most common challenge we face is changing people’s mindset. Striped hyenas living in India also have their share of misfortunes as evident from what Satyanarayan had to say: "Due to their scavenging habits, people tend to see them as harbingers of evil.