Hyena Project

On this page you will find information on the Hyena Project. We tried to put  together  some of the emails we have received in response to our asking for support. Thank you all very much once again. At this moment the Hyena are both doing very well, as you can tell from the newest photos on the top of this Page…


After Nicole and I came back from our Holiday the Hyena got fed  the intestines of an impala on the 15th of Dec very early in the morning. Then last saturday I took our guests out and fed them again. This is when we took these Photos. Both hyena are in really good condition and are feeding well. I try too simulate the natural environment and feed them at various intervals, sometimes every 5 to 10 days….in the wild they would not eat every day. They are fed fresh meat as well as rotting meat that I leave out in the sun a few days….very smelly.

As both hyaena are still young I occasionally add a mineral suplement and crush the larger bones for them. Predators that spend time in holding bomas dont lose their natural hunting/scavanging instincs and will be able to feed them selfs upon their release.

It is a bit smelly that meat…

Looks like Steve has been doing this forever, doesn`t it?

Waiting for them to fetch their dinner…




On the 6th of May 2009 our Hyena Project started as Steve wrote:

Dear Friends of Toro Yaka,

As many of you may know, we (Steve and Nicole) are very passionate about conservation and dedicated to restoring the ecosystem of our area, Balule Nature reserve, back to its former glory. As a step closer to achieving this, we at Toro Yaka (together with the OWGR committee) have been working hard, with Deat (Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism), to re-introduce spotted Hyena back to the Balule Nature Reserve.

Despite their unsavoury reputation, hyenas form a key role in the circle of life, by crunching bones and “cleaning up” after kills, though they are also adapt predators in their own right. Sadly, spotted hyena were shot and killed by cattle farmers, who previously dominated the Balule Nature Reserve, and today almost none remain in the area.

We are very happy to say that we have the chance to re-introduce, possible 3, hyena back into the Balule Nature Reserve, and we do hope that we can get them here within the month.

To make sure that the re-introduction is successful, the hyena will initially be held in a Boma (enclosed area), at Toro Yaka, for about 3 months. This will allow them to acclimatise and settle into the area. They will also for a bond during this time, which is very important for their survival. We would also like to fit at least one of the animals with a radio collar, so that we can keep track of their movements and ensure they remain safely within the reserve upon release.

In order to do this, we are building a boma/enclosure (Cost R30 000) and need to purchase  radio collars (R22 000 each). There will also be vets fees incurred when darting and transporting these animals (about R15 000). So far we have been able to raise R10 000, and we were wondering if anyone of our valued guests would be interested in contributing towards this very exciting project with a donation so that we can raise the outstanding amount required.

If you would like to help Toro Yaka to pursue “Our Dream” of returning the spotted hyena and their whooping call to the Balule nights, please contact me via e-mail (info@toroyaka.co.za).

On the 6th of May Steve wrote:

Hi all,

There is a chance that the Balule can get some Spotted Hyenas’ from Maholoholo……It would be really good to have some tracking collars on them . This can be done but obviously at a cost…

I would like to start a fund for just these sort of things and if any of you are interested and able to help with a financial donation please let me know asap. I will set up an account …do it properly and legally with all of your assistance and advice…and get the ball rolling.

Thank you .

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Steve Baillie

On the 6th of May 2009 Deirdre wrote:

Dear Steve and Nicole,

Thank you very much for your email, what a great project! And congratulations in setting this all up! I was wondering what the chances are of the hyaenas staying within Balule or the greater KNP and not ending up into non-protected lands. I don’t know through which areas they could get out. I’ld love to find out more about it.

Kind regards, and hope all is well with you both.

Thanks again for a lovely stay last March.


On the 6th of My Steve wrote:

Hi Deirdre

As you know there is no guarantee that they won`t get out Balule , but the holding boma where we hope to keep them for about 3 months is very secure with underground fencing and well electrified…hopefully after this period they have no desire to go near a fence again and their “homing” instinct is lost and they want to stay.

I would welcome any advice or suggestions you may have.

Thanks again


On the 11th of May 2009 Iris and Roderick wrote:

Hi Nicole and Steve,

Thank you for your e-mail. We think it is an exciting idea and we would love to support you with it. Especially because Balule is so special to us, because of our wedding day with you.

Kindest regards

Iris en Roderick

The Netherlands

On the 12th of May 2009 Christianna and Lise wrote:

Dear Steve and Nicole

Hope you are both well! 
We are very happy to hear about your efforts to re-introduce hyenas into Balule, and we’d like to make a donation to the project. We prefer the credit card option, and assume you just need card number, expiry date, name and the amount? Would you confirm this by return email, and we’ll send you the details.

Lots of warm regards

Christianna and Lise

On the 14th of May Nicole wrote:

Hello Christianna and Lise,

Thank you so much for your generosity. Unfortunately, we will not be able to accept a credit card payment. I made the mistake of thinking that it would be possible, but I have subsequently spoken to the people who do our credit card transactions, and for a reason, that I do not quite understand they are not able to do this. They gave me a name of a someone who does work with credit card payments for charities etc, so I will be contacting them to see what it involves.

On the good news side, there have being sightings of a black rhino in our area, which is very exciting. The reserve is slowly starting to get settled and when we get the hyenas in, it will be even more amazing.

Thank you for your support and we wish you all the best.

Steve and Nicole

Toro Yaka Bush Lodge

On the 16th of May Sjaak and Ineke wrote:

Hi Steve,

We are able to help for a little financial donation. How much do you need to get some Hyenas?

Bey Sjaak and Ineke

21st of May 2009 Verity and Charles wrote:

Hi Nicole

We’ve been away – hence the delay in replying.

We’d love to support your Hyena re-introduction project which sounds very exciting.  We’d prefer to donate with a credit card – could you please let me know how to go about it?

Best wishes

Verity and Charles

22nd of May 2009 Wolf Joachim and Hanna wrote:

Dear Nicole:

thank you very much for the info. We think it`s an very interesting project. As we already sponsor the WWF (World Wide Fond for Nature), the Asia Foundation to save the Moon bear as well as a lot of other foundations we hope you understand, that we do not want to participate in yet another project.

Best regards,

Wolf-Achim and Hanna


On the 28th of May 2009 Ben and Danielle wrote:

Hi Steve and Nicole. This is Ben Lee. Myself, my girlfriend Danielle and my family all spent Christmas at Toro Yaka..a memorable Christmas to say the least! I found out from my Dad the other day that you are starting a project to reintroduce Spotted Hyena into Balule Nature Reserve. Sounds awesome! Myself and Danielle are currently looking for research opportunities having spent the past 3 months researching leopards outside of protected areas in affiliation with the Mpumulanga Parks Board. Although I have not yet received the e-mail that was sent to my Dad, I was wondering whether you were looking for assistance with the spotted hyena reintroduction programme. If so, would Danielle and I be suitable candidates? Also, are you aware of any other research programmes that require assistance?

Best of luck with everything.

Ben and Danielle

6th of June 2009 Iris wrote:

Hi Nicole,

I am sorry for our late answer. We have sold our house and had to move last week. And because we have 4 addresses where we stay for the next 4 months, we needed to sort out what goes where. So we have been a bit busy. And Ro is working on our Land Rover every second of the day he is not at work of asleep.

Thank you for the mail. It is all clear. I assume it would be better to get a pair (or threesome), so they won’t go wonder off looking for a mate? You don’t have to pay for the hyena themselves? But 3 hyena will be much more expensive in transport, collars and vet. Are/is the hyena yet at Toro Yaka? And will you make a website for us to see the progress and pictures? But I can imagine that would be a lot of extra work now. But if you have, please let us know.

We will transfer the money this next week to your bank, unless you have a cheaper option by now. Or maybe I can pay by credit card as if we book for a night at Toro Yaka, and instead you use the money for this project?

Have you raised enough money already or do you still need more? We could try to raise some more here.

Good luck and please inform us about the project.

Kindest regards,


On the 18th of June 2009 Iris wrote:

Hi Nicole,
Thanks for your email.
I have contacted our family last friday who where in Amukela during our wedding and asked them if the would like to make a contribution as well. I allready have received € 50 from Angelique and Mark for your project.
I will wait for the other reactions untill wednesday and then I will pay at least € 150 to your bankaccount. Can you please send me the correct information again, because I can’t find the mail you send after the original. 
I quess you know, but Steve was on the Dutch tv yesterday (http://www.eo.nl/onverwachtbezoek). It was quit difficult for me to watch Mirjam and Corné doing what we so much want. On the one hand I want to go to Africa even more than I wanted before (if possible) and on the other hand I don’t want to leave my family behind even more than before.
About the hyena’s: can they keep the 9 month old pup from her/his mother? Or do they let him/her go if they can’t get her? I hope they will catch them soon and you can start the project for real. Do you need to buy the meat for them in the supermarket, a local farm or can you use bushmeat? Because if you need to buy the meat, I can image this would be expensive as well.

Best wishes, from a cloudy and rainy Netherlands,


On the  6th of July 2009 Penny and Terry wrote:

Hi Steve and Nicole

I have been meaning to get back to you about this  for ages! How are you both? We are fine here and have not long been back form a fantastic game-viewing holiday in Kenya. We were both absolutely blown away by the volume of wildlife and by how up-close we got to it. (…) Anyway, what reminded me to write to you was this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1190063/Pride-joy-Family-white-lions-prepare-leave-captivity-pioneer-new-life-wild.html – remembering that Stephen and Terry had a bit of a discussion on the subject!

Also, I wanted to send something for your Hyena project and wondered if it would work for you if I did it with paypal? I can easily make the transfer from my computer here at home, but you would need to have a paypal account to collect it? I can go to the bank to do it, but making an international transfer is very convoluted and paypal would be much easier. If you haven’t got an account – if it’s possible to set one up from SA –  I thoroughly recommend it and it would definitely make it easy for people to donate, should you ever have another appeal.

Hope all is well at beautiful Toro Yaka. Hopefully we will be able to come back in the not-too-distant future!


Penny and Terry xx

On the 8th of July Deirdre wrote:

Dear Steve & Nicole,

So sorry for my belated reply! Thank you very much for your response. I’m sorry I don’t know much about this, was just curious about what is known. I wish you all the very best and courage with your project! If you release a newsletter about what is happening, I’ld love to subscribe.

Thank you and kind regards,

Deirdre (& Callan)

On the 12th of July Nicole wrote:

Hello Lisa & Christanna,

I am sorry for taking so long to get back to you, but it has been a bit busy here (which is good), but as a result I did not get round to answering your e-mail, and I wanted to give it my full attention.

And yes we did receive your money for the hyena-reintroduction, thank you. We have completed the boma and it is ready and waiting for the hyena’s. We spoke to Brian (the guy who is catching them) yesterday and he is a bit stressed and he seems to be having a hard time getting the job done. The are running free between Hoedspruit and Kampusrus ( By Moholoholo animal rehabilitation centre) and they seem to be very wise to the ways of the world in the area. Farmers in the area want them caught, as they are eating their animals, so it is becoming urgent, as I am sure that someone will eventually get upset and shoot them, which is exactly what we want to prevent. We are not giving up hope and we are hoping to have good news for everyone in near future, but if this plan does not work, we will make another plan to get other hyena.

On a very positive note, Steve got to see the black rhino 2 days ago. He was so excited that he was shaking. He got some wonderful pictures and I have attached one for you to see.

On last night`s drive he also got 2 cheetah, which was also very special. Today he is walking part of the Olifants River, looking for Pels Fishing Owls, so he is happy.

Thank you again for everything, and I hope you are both well.

I will keep you posted. Hold thumbs that it will be really soon,

Best wishes,

Steve & Nicole

Toro Yaka Bush Lodge

On the 31st of July Brian wrote:

Hello Steve

Further to our telephonic conversation on Friday, 31st August 2009, we have been battling at great expense to capture the Spotted Hyena you have requested.

To date we have succeeded in catching 1 young male of about 12 months old.

We have recruited the assistance of Darren from America who has previously had much success using a foot-trap of his own invention. At $100 per day he has been trying for over a week and in this time we caught 3 Bushpig and 2 Hyena. Sadly the second hyena, a female, managed to pull the noose off of her foot and escape before we were able to catch her.

These 2 Hyena are part of a pack of 5 who are still in the area. For years now these Spotted Hyena have been hunted (trapped and snared) and have grown exceptionally cunning. I have caught many Spotted Hyena in the past but yet have I to meet Hyena as clever as this lot. When I see you I can explain just how cunning they are.

To date, we have used well over 100kgs of meat to bait and lure these Hyena. If you had wanted Honey Badger or Civet I would definitely have been able to help you by now!

Never the less we still continue with as much zeal as we started out with to catch these Spotted Hyena and hope to have good news for you soon.

Ecologically Yours

Brain Jones

On the 17th of August Steve wrote:

Hi All,

You may remember a couple of months back OWGR was contacted by DEAT to see if we would be interested in re-introducing some spotted hyena’s. Originally 3 hyena’s were seen moving in the Hoedspruit/Kampusrus area. Due to the lack of large predators on these game farms, the hyena’s settled in and started catching game, notably the Nyala, to the annoyance of the game farmers, as Nyala are expense animals.

Bryan Jones, of Moholoholo, was tasked to catch and remove them. Notan easy project. Various cage traps as well as a new form of noose trap, that catches the feet, were set in the areas that the hyena’s were seen. Many nights of trying and setting  traps at various locations were unsuccessful in capturing hyena. The cage a noose traps were checked every night at 10pm, 12am, 2am, and 4am, for the last couple months. Last week Wednesday night, the cages were checked and 2 hyena’s were caught. One adult female and one young male. The vet was contacted and rushed to the scene to dart the animals. Before he could dart the adult female, she broke out of the noose trap and escaped. The vet managed to dart the young male of about 11months old. It was taken to Moholoholo and house in a temporary cage.

I was contacted by Bryan Jones and collected the hyena on Thursday and released him into the boma on Cambridge 5. He was notable stressed and confused, but went in without any problems. He has settled in well, seems in good health and has fed once already.

Bryan Jones, is still attempting to capture the remaining hyena’s. These animals are nervous and weary of people, and are proving very difficult to catch. We can only hope that he will be successful as soon as possible.

I will keep you all informed, as and when it happens. For now, we have one young hyena.

Thank you for all your assistance, financial and otherwise. Should any of you wish to view the hyena, please contact me via e-mail, and I will gladly take you down to the boma. For the Lodges , if you would like to bring guests passed the boma please contact me to make arrangements

Kind Regards


On the 18th of August:

Dear Steve and Nicole

WOW! This is GREAT NEWS! Congrats on getting your first Spotty in the boma! in the spirit of the occasion I am sending you an mp3 of a recording I made recently of a Spotty Hyena cub squeaking and carrying on. He was very small at the time. Enjoy!

Boo and Scott Prince Venter. 

PS. Steve have you seen “our” big ass Python again? Would love some news!

On 18 Aug 2009 Deirdre wrote:

Hello Steve,

Thank you very much for this news. Congratulations with the project and all your efforts and we keep our thumbs up for the proceedings.

Best wishes,


19th of Aug 2009 Hans Juergen wrote:


many thanks for the info and the attached pics. Please keep me informed about your success. Hope you are doing well and going into a greate season


On the 21st of August 2009 Luc wrote:


must have been an incredible experience once more ?! I’m sending you all the love and luck possible here from France and hope I’ll see you guys again soon !! ( with healthy hyena !!)



One Response to “Hyena Project”

  1. Dear Nicole and Steve,
    It is so good to see that the hyenas are doing well, and I hope we will get to see them live from the back seat of the jeep some day.
    Also wish we could be hanging around in the bush with you guys instead of being here in freezing and snowclad Copenhagen.

    All the best wishes for the holiday season and an amazing wild 2010,
    Christianna & Lise

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