Wild “Tradition”: Feeding of Hyenas in Ethiopia

If the cultural and religious traditions can be taken with the understanding, the free walk of hyenas in the city causes sincere bewilderment. At night Harar is “patrolled” by groups of these predators. The city, as well as ordinary people, never hunts them. In case of willful killing of an animal, the abuser risks of being expelled from the city. With this respect the hyenas in the territory of Harar feel completely at ease: they are allowed to do everything they want.

Locals already do not remember for sure, when the predators began to visit the city at night, but the old-timers say, that it lasts for more than a century. It is believed that the reason for this “immunity” is in the folk beliefs, according to which hyenas protect the city from evil spirits. According to another version, the tradition of feeding the hyenas emerged from the great famine reigned in the area many years ago. Hyenas living in the vicinity of Harar began to attack people. One of the residents had a dream in which as a defense against the attacks it was suggested to feed the leader. Now in Harar this event is celebrated at the annual festival, and the evening “meal” with hyenas is also a way to attract tourists.

By nightfall handlers of hyenas, who, incidentally, are young enough, go beyond the city gates and invite hyenas, which are already gathered in anticipation of feeding. Meat and bones is either thrown to the ground, or fed directly from the hands and mouth - depends on the mood of hyenas, handlers and the number of onlookers. In order to properly tickle the nerves, hyenas take a piece of meat directly from the teeth of a tourist. Imagination has no limits, someone feeds hyenas even from shoulders.

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