Obituaries

Ethiopia’s ‘Hyena Men’ Talk to the Animals

Hyena manBy Heather Murdock | Harar, Ethiopia
Adam Mohamad, a butcher is not a “hyena man,” but like many Hararis, he feels close to the animals and will feed them by hand if they come to his shop. The countryside surrounding Harar, an ancient walled city in eastern Ethiopia, is dense with hyenas.  The people of Harar say hyenas are not dangerous scavengers; they are a regular part of society.

Salamo Fantan reaches into a straw basket for strips of raw goat meat, and calls the wild hyenas by name.  He tosses the meat to some animals, which look like large brown dogs with razor sharp teeth and black jowls.  Others approach Salamo and take the meat from his hand, or off a stick in his mouth.  A few tourists take pictures, lighting the feeding with the headlights of their taxis.

Across town, Youseff Mume Saleh feeds another family of hyenas with his hands and with his mouth.  He says the show goes on with or without the tourists.  Feeding the hyenas is a family tradition and a spiritual calling.  He says he speaks to the hyenas, and they communicate with him. When bad news is coming, he says, the hyenas cry.  It is hard to find a Harari person skeptical of this claim.

Full Story – VOA News – Ethiopia’s Hyena Men Talk to Animals


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