Question prompted by: Should I run if I see wild dogs?

Since Hyenas physically resemble Wild Dogs, more or less, is the advice in that discussion applicable for encounters with Hyenas too?

Are there any additional points?


3 Answers 3


stop, don't run away. As a predator, the hyena will instinctively chase animals which run away, even out of curiosity, so don't run away from it. Don't lie down or pretend to be dead - this will increase its curiosity. Try not to show your fear. Keep yourself calm by talking to it.

I think hyenas only hunt live prey when they are in packs, unless the prey is small. In the city they are probably scavenging for easy meals, not hunting in packs. If you are carrying any food, the hyena can probably smell it. Throw the food away and when the hyena shows interest in it move away slowly. The hyena is very lazy and prefers scavenging easy meals (eg dead meat) rather than chasing prey or fighting. But don't carry food as a precaution - this is asking for trouble!

Check to see if you are standing near rubbish bins or a tip or a dead animal. The hyena is probably more interested in these. Slowly move away to one side, keep facing the hyena.

If the hyena is showing interest in you personally and moves towards you, suddenly move a few steps towards it, to surprise it and make it think you are a predator. Spread out your arms, wave them about, make yourself as big as possible, make a loud noise, shout or scream threateningly, look aggressive and frightening, as if you are going to attack the hyena.

Most likely the hyena will run away. If not, vary your tactics - be still for a moment then make a sudden threatening movement or noise. If it growls or giggles, this is a sign that it is challenging your attack. In this case, stand your ground - never run away - but don't move any closer. If you are carrying a bag, swing it around your head. Or if you are carrying anything which will make a noise, use it to do so. Carrying a torch and/or a whistle or pepper spray is a good precaution - flash the torch in the animal's eyes, use spray when the animal is very close. If it moves closer, stamp your feet loudly at it, or throw something at it.

Don't move away until after the hyena does. When you do move, do it slowly, continuing to face the direction of the hyena.

If the hyena actually attacks you, stand your ground and fight back by poking with a stick or kicking and punching its head.

Source - How Should You React When Encountering a Dangerous Wild Animal?

  • "Carrying a torch and/or a whistle or pepper spray is a good precaution" is a key part of this answer. As a now-deleted answer said, you will probably lose a fist fight with a hyena. A pocket knife would greatly improve your chances but still that could easily fail. Pepper spray is ideal because it can be used at range before you make contact with the creature, and it is far less likely to be lethal for them than any physical engagement. These are hardy predators, but some pepper spray for outdoors people is designed to fend off bears, so that should do the trick.
    – cr0
    Jun 26, 2018 at 20:17

Hyenas aren't closely related to wild dogs (1), but a predator is a predator is a predator, and running from a predator says "I am prey."

How worried should you be if you come upon hyenas? The first thing to note is: are they striped or spotted? If they are striped, they may be more interested in your oranges (2) than you. If they are spotted, be worried.

"The striped hyena is primarily a scavenger, though it will occasionally attack and kill any defenseless animal it can overcome, and will supplement its diet with fruits. The spotted hyena, though it also scavenges occasionally, is an active pack hunter of medium to large sized ungulates, which it catches by wearing them down in long chases and dismembering them in a canid-like manner." (Wikipedia, Hyena, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyena)

So, unless you can run faster than a deer, don't run. My gut feel is that the advice for wild dogs (3) would apply, but leave out the "you're a nice doggy, let's be friends" steps; they don't have nice doggy genes.

Someone who has experience in Africa needs to weigh in.

(1) Hyenas are genetically closer to cats than dogs, but look like and behave like dogs in several respects.

(2) Oranges, see Best method of carrying fruits over a period of 3 days while on a trek

(3) Advice on wild dogs Should I run if I see wild dogs?

Edit: I think I have been too flip in this answer. Hyenas are noted for the enormous crushing power of their jaws. If you are attacked, you are in more trouble than if you were attacked by dogs. You should not be strolling around in hyena country without a gun that you are expert at using and/or a guide with a gun.


If you come across a hyena do not back away from it, this will tell the hyena you are prey and it might attack you.Do not run unless you are faster than a deer,otherwise do not run.If it comes near you, look for anything that might be used as a weapon, if it attacks you fight back by kicking and punching it in the face. If more hyenas show up, I suggest running for your life and do not stop.Turn over rubbish cans and crates while running to slow the hyenas down

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