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June 04, 2008

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A Kind Word For Fisi*

*Which is Swahili for hyena.

I haven't read anything nice about the hyena for ages, so I guess it's up to me to fill the void. I've seen a number of them at work and play in Africa, and there are few creatures that are odder or more interesting. Hyenas have been around for many millions of years, and were once far more widespread than they are now. There was a European hyena that weighed 400 pounds (twice what a big modern one weighs) and a long-legged North American hyena that could run 60 miles an hour.

Today, the hyena is the most common carnivore in Africa. It is a skilled hunter, has a bite far stronger than a lion's, can eat carrion, and is fiercely territorial. The hyena is Africa's Minister of Death. Man or beast, when you perish, Fisi will pay you a call. Or he may help you along beforehand. What the werewolf is to Europe, the were-hyena is to Africa.


Lions and hyenas hate each other, and there is nothing a big male lion would rather do than kill hyenas. However, when that same lion is old, toothless, and unable to fight, the hyenas come and eat him alive.

I have fond memories of two hyenas in particular. One was running ahead of our Land Rover at night in Zambia in 1981. It had either just eaten an entire zebra, or was pregnant, or both, because it had the biggest gut of any animal I've ever seen, and its frantically churning legs could not move its massive stomach out of the way until the last second. It was a scene from the Roadrunner and the Coyote.

The other was a baby hyena peering out of the mouth of a culvert in Kruger National Park. It couldn't have been more than a few weeks old, was coal black, had an intelligent, curious face, and beady little eyes that stared without fear. It is possibly the cutest animal I've ever seen.

It would grow up to be a monster, of course--but an interesting one.


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Scott in Ohio

The Grendel of the Dark Continent.


Just like ants, buzzards, catfish, and lawyers, they have their place in the ecosystem.

SD Bob

Don't shoot Fisi! They are morphed witch doctors and you'll be cursed for doing so!

Jason N.

Hmm.. Kind of remind me of Hillary


Might have gotten some people excited with this post, saying that hyenas once roamed North America. Some bonehead might get the bright idea to transplant the modern day hyena here to control the wolf population so that we don't have to hunt the wolves. Now, wouldn't that be special. Just kidding ... I hope.

Blue Ox

Hyenas are the clean-up crew of Africa...

Jim in Mo.

I know many of you folks have read Robert Ruarks book "Use Enough Gun". And for those who haven't, please do. Ruark, through-out his book cursed, laughed, and degraded Fisi. But in the end, when fully read, it seemed clear to me he respected this strange creature.
Thanks for the reminder Dave, think I'll pull my copy out for a third read.

Dr. Ralph

What is this... a precursor to get us ready for writing nice things about the new candidate for the Democratic Party? Sure he's cute and interesting but he will eat us alive.

Walt Smith

Looks like Hillary just after she found out she's the first white person to looses a primary to a person of a different race (sorry, trying to be politically correct here!)and will A. forever be remembered for that and B. realizing her only ticket to the white house is to now--GULP suck up to the same different race person.He He He!!!


I sit here, morosely contemplating the future of America. Recently, in church, one of the elders began a series of talks on Revelations! How the predictions of the Bible correspond with current events lead him to believe that we are entering the tribulation stages.
Bitter fighting throughout the world. Religions fighting other religious factions for foggy reasons. Hurricanes, floods, drought, earthquakes, famine, the whole smear! It, whether you are a believer or not, is eerily on point.
As much as I don't want Obama in the Oval Office, I fear that will be the case.
I really feel our only saving grace would be for HRC to be so upset that she runs for POTUS as a third, possibly Liberal candidate! Hopefully, this will result in the same affect that H. Ross Pee-rot had. The Hillary backers will vote for HRC as a third party candidate, pull enough votes away from BHO that McCain will win!
I hate to say it, but yeah, I'm speaking of doom's day, and I will still vote for McCain! If BO hits the White House, I will complain bitterly, and loud!
Pray that old Fisi will visit the DNC camps and tend to the offal that abounds there!


William J. Bryan

"Hyenas have been around for many millions of years..." No way! The earth is only six thousand years old!


Maybe six thousand million years -(6 Billion years), my friend - but of course - believe what you will.

Ralph the Rifleman

If I could actually hate any anumal on this Earth, it would be the Fisi(i like saying that better then Hyena).In general terms, the animal is probably not any worse then other carnivore in Africa, but I still think the animal is the Devil's purebred invention. Think I could have a Fisi fur coat made to reveal my true distain for this animal?

Thos. B. Fowler

As a native Texan, I can imagine that peering at a Hyena over the open sights of a 6.5 Mannlicher Schoenauer would be a red letter day.

But...not for the Hyena.

Tom Fowler


Hyenas are not extinct in North America. They still exist in the human form of politicians and lawyers.

William J. Bryan

Read your bible Mitch! You liberal...

Peter H.

Well, we really don't know how old the earth is ...cause when

God created life as we know it...the earth was already here...at least thats what i believe(the earth was with out form and void)-Genisis doesn't mean it wasn't here..just means it was without "form"...and no this is not Theistic Evolution in case some are wondering...

Dave sorry.man..i don't believe that they are millions.

"There was a European hyena that weighed 400 pounds (twice what a big modern one weighs) and a long-legged North American hyena that could run 60 miles an hour."

Dave, where does that come from? just curious ..im sure there was ..i was just wondering where you got that info

Peter H.

Hyenas are just weird

Steve Ferber

They walk like an organic chemistry professor I once had...but are far more understandable.

james t

i think i would trust fisi more than obama. obama is that weak little pet that kids can't help but kick every chance they get. if people don't start to get the word out to back mcain now we all will be in a lot of trouble! what's the cost of living in new zealand?


Considering the ferocity of a fisi, I believe the 6.5 might be a little on the light side. At least .30 if not a .33 would be much more suited for downing fisi in short order. Is there a category for this animal in African hunting?

Blue Ox

To the unnamed blogger asking about the extinct european & american hyenas:
They conceal information like that in books.

Fundamentalist Conservative

Books are full of liberal concepts that "advance human society"... In my day we knew what was right and what was wrong and that was enough. In my day, we didn't have safety standards for toys. We got rusty nails and big bags of broken glass! That's the way it was, and we liked it!

Yo Mama Is For Obama

Who kicks there pets? Dude that's a strange statement.

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