Queen of Kutch
Chasing the hyena’s laughter and litter across the Little Rann of Kutch.
I planned a trip to Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat along with a couple of friends from Pune. It was hot summertime in the month of April. The target for this trip was specific to mammals found in Kutch i.e. mainly Desert Fox and Striped Hyena. Sightings of these mammals are more prominent in summer as it is a denning period for them. We planned our safari to Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary for the best sighting of these mammals.
Once we had entered the sanctuary and looked around the area, we just couldn’t make out from where we made an entry; hence employing a local guide and driver is recommended while having a safari here. We accompanied Bhurra, an expert bird guide with strategic driving skills who is into the field of wildlife for more than 12 years in Rann of Kutch.
With hawk-eye vision, Bhurra spotted a hyena right into the bushes. All we could see is a small white dot from a far distance. Sighting normally happens in the early morning or late evening. Hence spotting is a big skill here as there is almost no light when these mammals get active. It was a female hyena pretty much bigger in size with more of a whitish color. Photography was a challenging part as the light had almost diminished in evening. I managed to get a few good photos out of hundreds of shots.
We came to know from our guide that this hyena female was a very important individual in raising the hyena population in the whole sanctuary. Bhurra has been observing this female hyena from more than 6 years. Aged around 11-12 years, she has given birth to a litter of three to four pups every year, for the past four years observed by Bhurra. At present, she has four pups fathered by her own pup from last year. So far, her breeding has been pretty much at a successful rate. Their mating season is in January and cubs are born 84-85 days after mating. After the rainy season, their dens get destroyed every year. This female, however, digs her den in the same location every year. On sunset, she leaves her pups inside the den in search of food, returning just before sunrise.
Read also: Amazing Predatory Tactics in the Wild
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