A pack of hyenas killed two children and injured six other members of a family in a savage mauling in the middle of the night in the town of Wajir, Kenya. The entire family was sleeping in a traditional home in a family compound, called a "manyatta," near Dilmanyale village.
Ten-year-old boy, Musa Jelle, was badly injured and left with deep wounds and slashes on his body and face from the teeth and claws of the catlike hyenas. The boy was first admitted at Garissa District hospital but was airlifted to the capital city Nairobi on Thursday by the Kenya Wildlife Service for further treatment. “The boy’s condition has since deteriorated,” said the KWS.
The other five injured members of the family were admitted at Habaswein District Hospital, where they were treated soon after the attack and released. Burials for the deceased children were quickkly performed.
The Kenyan Wildlife Service is responsible for game parks and wildlife in Kenya and has pursued and killed the hyenas. It has also paid the family's medical costs and donated 20,000 Kenyan shillings (£150) to them as 'consolation.' The amount is equivalent to approximately $230 in American dollars.
Attacks by wild animals in the area have increased, with 18 people killed so far this year, according to the NY Daily News. The nocturnal hunters are coming into conflict with humans more frequently as the human population increases in Africa. In some places, especially where they have attacked livestock, hyenas are heavily hunted as pests.
The Kenya Wildlife Service said its rangers are working in the community near the recent attack to educate people about ways to prevent conflict with hyenas and other wild animals.
Hyenas are most commonly known as scavengers that eat the remains of dead animals left by other predators, but as this tragic incident demonstrates, they can also be bold and powerful hunters. According to the African Wildlife Foundation hyenas can weigh up to 190 pounds, and despite their reputation as “laughing” cowards that usually go after the easiest prey, and they can be very aggressive and dangerous.
The spotted hyena is believed to have diverged from the striped and brown hyena 10 million years ago. Ancestral spotted hyenas probably developed social behaviors in response to increased competition from rivals over carcasses, thus forcing them to operate in teams. Because of the structure of their teeth and jaws, they did not need to wait for their prey to die, and thus became pack hunters as well as scavengers
The following video demonstrates the strength and speed of hyenas as one pursues a cheetah to steal fresh prey and is joined by a pack.