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Johannesburg - When the first caller to Talk Radio 702 on Wednesday morning said they’d spotted a hyena in Northcliff, nobody quite believed it.
A hyena? In Joburg? Sure it wasn’t just a shaggy dog?
But within minutes, the witness accounts were flying on Twitter.
The Randburg Civic Centre.
There was definitely something on the move out there, and it was no dog.
“If it was, it was the biggest shaggy dog I’ve ever seen,” said Brent Morris, who was cycling in Emmarentia just after 6am when he spied the hyena on a road just next to the dam.
“It was really quite big, about the size of my bike,” said Morris. “It was just standing there looking away from us.”
The hyena turned and saw the group of 20 cyclists.
“I think he got a fright because he sort of galloped away towards the spruit.”
By 6.30am, the hyena had made its way to Delta Park, between Linden and Parkhurst, where it was seen by dog walkers, according to tweets by radio presenter John Robbie.
At 6.45am, it had moved north out of the park: “My husband saw a hyena running across Conrad Road in Blairgowrie this morning at around 06.45,” tweeted Natalie Maree Demmer.
It got as far north as the Randburg Civic Centre, on the corner of Bram Fischer and Jan Smuts Avenue, where a picture was finally snapped: brown and loping about, with a curved back. An employee there said it looked like “a big dog” and was being chased.
It turned back south.
By the time Sophie Eunice Kunene saw it, it was back in Blairgowrie, on Olympic Road.
“I was arriving at work and I saw something like a dog,” she said. “But it was big. I thought, ‘What kind of dog is this?’”
The dark brown hyena was running up the street, trailed by two cars, she said.
The journey ended 60m down the road when animal workers from FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and the Joburg Zoo darted the hyena.
By late morning, it was in a cage and set to be transported to the zoo, where it was to be examined, and a course of action decided on.
Derek van der Merwe, a field officer with the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s carnivore programme, said despite its morning jaunt, the animal - a brown hyena - didn’t pose a threat to anyone.
“People shouldn’t be worried about it.
“They’re seen in Kloofendal every now and then, and tend to be very shy animals.”
He explained that a small group of the animals were based on the green belt from Kloofendal, through Constantia Kloof to Quellerina, but because they are nocturnal, sightings are rare despite them living in such close proximity to humans.
“People will be shocked to know that last year we found a dead leopard just three kilometres from Constantia Kloof,” said Van der Merwe. “This does happen from time to time.”