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Harar, Ethiopia
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A Bite to Eat Harar  Ethiopia

A Bite to Eat

We'd read about the Hyena Men in Harar before our trip, and there was no way we were going to pass up the chance to see them.

Harar started out with just one Hyena Man, but now there's a second, and they both keep up a nightly tradition of calling to the animals and feeding them scraps of meat. Legend goes that this got started in an effort to keep the hyenas from picking off livestock, and even people, under cover of darkness.

A short bajaj ride outside of the city wall brought us to where this Hyena Man was starting his evening feeding. He shouted names into the night and the hyenas came forward.

Visitors are able to join in on the feeding, if they want. I did. I walked into the light being thrown by a 4x4 and knelt down next to the Hyena Man. I held out my hand to take the stick from which he'd been feeding them. He snapped it in half and gestured for me to open my mouth and take the stick in my teeth. It was quite the "Oh what the hell" moment, but I did it.

He placed a shred of meat over the end of the stick, and the hyenas that surrounded us closed in from all sides. One came close enough to snatch the meat away, and then the Hyena Man reloaded the stick, again and again, as each hyena grabbed its treat. Then he held meat over my right shoulder, so that the hyenas body checked me in the attempted to get it. I got to finish out the experience by holding the basket that contained the last scraps and letting one hyena stick his head in it to polish them off.