When they're not brazenly robbing cheetahs of their hard-earned meals, Africa's rarely seen brown hyenas are impressing us in other ways. Despite the six large lionesses chomping at its heels, this fleet-footed individual managed to give the big cats the slip: 

The remarkable chase scene was caught on film by safari-goer Louis Le Roux during a visit to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, a vast swathe of sandy savannah in the Kalahari Desert region of Botswana and South Africa.

A smaller relative of its more familiar spotted cousin, the shaggy-haired brown hyena is a ubiquitous carnivore in this harsh, arid region, but a sighting is still considered lucky given its largely nocturnal habits and elusive nature. 

The band of big cats, meanwhile, had made its presence keenly felt in the area around Le Roux's camp the previous day and night, so he had a camera at the ready just as the unwitting hyena stumbled into an ambush near the local waterhole the next morning.

The Kalahari's sparsely populated desert vastness means its reigning carnivores (and the brown hyena ranks among them here) can mostly keep out of each other's way – but not this time. And while the shaggy beasts have more than enough moxie to stand up to less brawny rivals (they've been known to rob not only cheetahs but also leopards of their kills in these parts), lions are one competitor that will not be messed with.

The big cats may have been eyeballing the local antelope fare for their dinner, and likely pursued the hyena first and foremost as a rival, but they probably wouldn't have passed up the sustenance had their chase ended in a successful kill. So the hyena's nimble sprinting no doubt saved its life. 



Top header image: Ian White/Flickr