Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) take over an elephant carcass, popping in and out of the trees to stare up the escarpment at us. This photo is a composite of four photos within the span of 3 minutes, when each of the four hyenas happened to stand in a clearing. The circumstances surrounding the death of this elephant are disheartening. It was a mature elephant, healthy and a decade or two younger than when would be expected for its natural demise. It is speculated that the elephant fell into a canal and fractured a leg, unable to leave the vicinity. Although a tragic death, the elephant’s body has served as an enormous amount of nutrition to hundreds of carnivores. Hyenas and lions were likely among the foremost contestants to reap their rewards, followed by jackals, mongooses, buzzards, and small rodents who were desperate to snatch smaller pieces of the elephant’s meat. It was surreal to observe this event, with black skies and sporadic lightning looming closer. Unexpected heavy rains have since fallen, and astonishingly the bits of carcass that remained have long been swallowed by the floods. It is incredible that in a relatively short amount of time, not a trace is left of this behemoth of the savanna.
Photographed after slight disturbance