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Sunday, February 23, 2014

The urban hyenas that attack rough sleepers አዲስ አበባ ጅብ ውጭ የሚያድሩትን እየበላ ነው ተባለ

Urban hyenas are becoming a dangerous problem in the Ethiopian capital, where they attack rough sleepers.
It is late evening in Addis Ababa. Stephen Brend, a zoologist with the Born Free Foundation, is driving me to the airport to catch a flight back to London.
"Have you got time for a ten-minute detour?" he asks, as we passed the British embassy. "Of course," I reply.
So he turns off the road and up a dirt track between some rough shacks and a collection of battered old jalopies that passes for a taxi rank in Ethiopia's capital.
"There! Look there!" Stephen exclaims. In the beams of his headlights I see several pairs of eyes glinting in the darkness like tiny mirrors. As we drive closer I begin to make out the shapes of the animals behind those eyes. They are hideous beasts, as large as the largest dogs, with coarse spotted brown fur, elongated necks and front legs much longer than their back ones so their backs taper away from their powerful shoulders.
As we watch, a group of teenagers walks up the track, right past the animals. "They're mad," Stephen remarks. Hyenas have jaws as powerful as those of great white sharks, he explains. They can crush an elephant's leg. They devour every last morsel of their prey - bones included. "I mean - there's nothing left," he says.
London is infested by urban foxes. Delhi is besieged by urban monkeys. Addis Ababa is plagued by urban hyenas who have moved in to the city from the surrounding hills and taken up residence in the capital. In some ways they perform a useful service, keeping the city's growing population of stray dogs and feral cats under control and consuming the carcasses of dead horses and other animals. But there are now reckoned to be somewhere between 300 and 1,000 of them living in the city and they are dangerous.
In 2011 the airport authorities had to call in hunters to shoot a pack of hyenas that was posing a threat to planes landing and taking off. People living near the Ketchene public cemetery have complained of hyenas digging up and eating the corpses of the poor that are buried in very shallow graves. The hyenas tend to hunt in groups, and one night a guard at the British embassy saw a line of 40 running along the back fence of the compound.
Periodically they attack some of the many Ethiopians who sleep rough on the streets of Addis every night. A volunteer at a clinic run by a Mother Teresa mission in the city said that a couple of times a month he has to treat homeless and destitute people who have had fingers and toes gnawed by hyenas while they were drugged or drunk. On one occasion a man was brought in after a hyena had ripped much of his scalp away while he was sleeping, leaving it hanging down over his eyes. Last year a mother camping outside St Stephanos church near the Hilton Hotel had her baby son snatched from her arms and killed by a hyena.
Periodically they attack some of the many Ethiopians who sleep rough on the streets of Addis every night. A volunteer at a clinic run by a Mother Teresa mission in the city said that a couple of times a month he has to treat homeless and destitute people who have had fingers and toes gnawed by hyenas while they were drugged or drunk. On one occasion a man was brought in after a hyena had ripped much of his scalp away while he was sleeping, leaving it hanging down over his eyes. Last year a mother camping outside St Stephanos church near the Hilton Hotel had her baby son snatched from her arms and killed by a hyena.

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