When I was in Namibia in 2017, I thought that would be the time when I would see a brown hyena, as they are a fairly regular animal to spot along the Skeleton Coast. Instead, we saw substantial aftermath of hyenas, in the form of numerous seal pups littering the beach, but didn’t spot the hyenas. Fast forward to my trip in 2022; on the drive from the Madikwe air strip to the lodge, my guide told me there was a brown hyena den on the property that we would would try to get to during my stay. I was quite excited about the prospect of finally seeing one of these animals.
Luck was on our side for a sighting, but not on my side for a great photographic opportunity. Heavy rains had closed many roads, giving us quite a long drive to get to the den site, and the approaching darkness meant we could only stay a short time. We had hoped that an adult would come back to the den while we were there, but it was not to be. We did see a youngster at the mouth of the cave where the den was located, but watching a cave entrance in the approaching dark from significant distance doesn’t provide the best chance at a decent photo.
But, while the photos matter, in that I enjoy taking them, editing them, sharing them and creating with them, they also don’t matter, because enjoying the moment is more important to me than coming back with an image of it. I will share what I do have of my first ever brown hyena sighting, because it was interesting and special for me. I’m hopeful that someday, I’ll get a better look at these creatures.