Hyena carries lion’s head
These cruel yet powerful pictures show the moment a victorious hyena paraded the decapitated head of a lion like a trophy – sending a strong message to its rivals.
The young spotted hyena can be seen running back and forth displaying the head of its most fierce rival to strike fear in the hearts of other lions living nearby.
Belgium-born wildlife photographer Iris Braun captured the stunning images inside the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
She said: “It is a cruel image, but this is was nature is about.
“This picture symbolises the ferocity of the rivalry between lions and hyenas.
“Their goal is to kill each other.
“In this case, the hyenas carry around the head of their worst enemy in order to reassure themselves of their superiority.”
The spotted hyena is native to Sub-Saharan Africa and is its most common large carnivore. They live in matriarchal societies where the female dominates the male.
Skilled in hunting and scavenging, the spotted hyena will seek out the most vulnerable and easily digested foods available.
Once selected the hyena will chase its prey over large distances and up to speeds of 40 miles-per-hour.
Iris revealed she came across a pack of lions the previous evening.
She said: “I could see a badly injured female lion.
“It is possible the lioness was unable to keep pace with her pride and fell prey to the hyenas.
“Lions are much bigger and stronger than hyenas.
“In order to take down a lion, the hyenas would have had to act in a very coordinated way.
“Keeping that lions head and carrying it around as a trophy is a way for the hyena pack to strengthen its social coherence.”
“Of course I felt sad for the lioness, but at the same time I felt privileged to have witnessed such a unique moment.”