Since the ‘beginning of time’, animals and men have been living sharing the same planet. Some of them have also chosen to live together like friends or family. But if you think it happens only with pets and little defenceless animals, you should know it sometimes happens with wild ferocious beasts. Although men are usually inclined to choose a safe and quite life, there are some of them who are so brave – or good – to live close to the wildlife.
One of theme is Abbas Yusuf, known as the “Hyena Man” from Harar, a small village in Ethiopia. This is the story of the man who has been living with hyenas and feeding them almost everyday.
Abbas learned that from his father Yusuf Mume Salleh, but decided to go beyond his dad limits. In fact, while Mume Salleh was used to throw scraps to the beasts – to keep them far from his livestock – his son started to get closer and now he feeds hyenas from his hands.
Hyenas are depicted as opportunistic scavengers and are actually skilful hunters. With powerful jaws and a digestive tract that allow them to process and obtain nutrients from both skin and bones, hyenas consume animals of various sizes, carrion, bones and more. In addition, they are very territorial, organized into territorial clans of related individuals.
As human population expands, hyenas and men get closer and closer. But despite that and the previous attack incidents, in the small Ethiopian village of Harar people and children are not afraid of them…not any more. They learned how to keep themselves far from becoming their lunch by feeding the animals with scraps – like Abbas’ father did. That’s why there have been no hyena attacks for 200 years.
For the “Hyena Man”, this animals are a kind of dog and the relationship between this human and the wild animals is amazing. Abbas even has a baby hyena in his bedroom, and he’s not worried of being bitten at all. He knows his ‘pets’ so well that he calls them by name. Names given to them according to their behaviour. Photographers can even get closer to the predators feeling safe and being able to take wonderful shots without waiting too much time.
These hyenas could kill him at any time in two seconds, but they don’t. A demonstration that “when you can’t defeat your enemy, you can always try to become his friend”.
Are words not enough to you? See him and the Harar residents in action on this video, feeding the hyenas with no fear:
I feel comfortable with living with animals around me, but I’ve never gone beyond cats, dogs or other farm animals. Would you dare to ‘share you bed’ with a powerful wild hyena, lion or tiger?