The Urban Hyenas Of Harar, Ethiopia

Atlas Obscura published an interesting piece yesterday about the hyenas of the ancient walled city of Harar, Ethiopia, where they have lived symbiotically with humans for hundreds of years.

“Along the base of the wall are small doorways, constructed some centuries ago to allow the city’s most unusual residents, hyenas, to come and go.

Residents have a cordial relationship with the spotted hyenas that enter the city at night to eat the food scraps and other organic waste from the garbage dump and the market.

Some date the open-door policy regarding hyenas back 200 years, some 500. The generally accepted origin story is that during a famine, the hyenas of the surrounding savannah became aggressive towards livestock and people. Local leaders decided that if they left food out for the hyenas, the animals would be satisfied and life could go on as usual. Since hyenas are opportunistic scavengers, over time the mutually beneficial aspects of the arrangement became clear.”

Read more about the hyenas of Harar on Atlas Obscura.

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