Spotted hyenas are often unfairly cast as villainous scavengers looking to pillage meals from weaker rivals at every turn, but the truth is these predators are more than just food thieves. Hyenas are capable hunters that can bring down large prey, especially if they work together. Sometimes, though, the shaggy carnivores live up to the stereotypes.

Trails guide Jason Joubert recently witnessed a hyena snatch a carcass from an African rock python that was yet to begin swallowing its meal. These snakes can grow to over five metres long and are unfussy eaters. They will target everything from warthogs and birds to small mammals much like the young impala in Joubert's clip (there's even a record from Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve of a python swallowing an adult hyena!). However, witnessing a python mid-meal is rare. In over a decade of guiding safaris, this is the first time that Joubert had come across one of these hefty snakes harbouring an impala catch.

But the safari guide was not the only one watching the drama unfold that day. A hyena was also attracted to the commotion and had begun edging its way towards the python and its kill. After assessing the situation, the hyena carefully approached and managed to seize the meal with relative ease leaving the python with no means to reclaim the carcass. Pythons rely on impressive camouflage to ambush their prey, so it's likely that this snake spent some time stalking the impala only to have the carcass stolen before it could reap the rewards.

"I was ecstatic! In 13 years of guiding, I had never seen anything like this, I was just bummed that the python lost its kill after a lot of hard work though," Joubert told Latest Sightings.


Top header image: Bobby Bradley/Flickr