This is little Usiku, a 1 year old hyena.
Usiku was born and very sadly abandoned by his mother when he was 1 day old. He was born into a clan of hyenas who lived in the city of Lilongwe which is the capital city of Malawi. Lilongwe have urban hyena clans who exist in the city much the same as foxes do in London. A year ago the whole clan had to be darted and relocated from the city to Liwonde National Park but young Usiku had to be left behind. After 1 year in rehab at LWT (Lilongwe Wildlife Centre) Usiku was ready to undergo his release programme. Fortunately I was there at the time and was able to participate in the process.
When I visited his enclosure, he was in great condition and really excited… I reckon he knew he was on his way to freedom…
This is the LWT veterinary team sedating him before we transported him to his temporary enclosure in Kasungu National Park. He will stay in the enclosure for the next 2 months whilst he acclimatises. Hopefully wild hyenas will show interest in him and integrate him into their clan once he is released. He will need the assistance of another clan as he doesn’t have a mother to show him how to hunt or survive in the wild.
Once darted Usiku was given a full medical check and then collared. The satellite collar will allow the team to track his movements once he is released into the wild properly. After a year the collar will be electronically released and will simply fall off his neck.
OAT funded the release programme for Usiku which involved in relocating him from Lilongwe to Kusungu National Park plus the construction of his temporary enclosure in the park. Camera traps were strategically placed around the circumference of Usiku’s enclosure to enable the research team to monitor (remotely) the interaction between Usiku and wild hyenas. This way they will know when the ideal time is to open the gate and allow him to socialise and run free with his own kind for the rest of his life. I will keep you posted on his progress!