- I Seyyid Abdiweli Abdishakur, a traditional leader who
also doubles up as a farmer and a pastoralist, has made a mark within his
community by achieving what many men dread to even attempt.
- He has trained a hyena to look after his livestock and
four hawks to guard his grain farms from destructive birds.
- The Hyena and Hawk man lives in the small town of Qabri
Bayah about 50 kilometres from Jigjiga town the headquarters of the Somali
region in eastern Ethiopia.
- When I visited him in his house, he was busy tending
crops at his green garden - a rare sight in this arid neighbourhood.
- A group of young men were playing with the male hyena,
which seemed to enjoy all the action.
- Near the hyena and without any fear, were four cows.
- The hyena looked so much at home and even licked oil
from the head of one of Seyyid Abdishakur's herders.
- They have fondly named the hyena "Ali".
- Cash savings
- I asked Seyyid Abdishakur what led him to tame the hyena
- "I have a herd of about 370 goats and hyenas have
been regularly attacking my herd. Then I hatched this plan of taming the
animal and I got this one at the age of two and brought him home,"
- Mr Abdishakur says he knew hyenas do not come to attack
anywhere where their offspring are.
- "As for the hawks I caught them while they were
young and I use them to guard my farms where I plant grain during the rainy
season," he said.
- Mr Abdishakur says both the hawks and hyena have been
of great use to him.
- "I have saved the funds which I used to hire extra
people to guard my crops against birds and the hyena has become a good
shepherd... other hyenas now fear my herd," he said.
- This great friendship between the beast and livestock
has not come about easily.
- Village attraction
- Mr Abdishakur says that at first he was forced to hire
a vehicle to carry the hyena around whenever his livestock moved to a new
- This was to prevent "Ali" meeting other hyenas
and taking off with them.
- For the past four years the hyena has stayed with him
and served him well.
- Mr Abdishakur says that he has never slaughtered a goat
within the sight of the hyena to avoid it seeing the livestock as a source
- "I only give him meat from the butcher," he
- But has he got any fears of the hyena leaving him and
going back to the wild?
- "Yes, when the Hyena feels the urge to mate, then
there is the danger of it leaving in search of a female one. But I have
already considered this and I now put certain herbs in its food to reduce
its sexual urge," said Mr Abdishakur.
- He says that he learnt this from his late father whom
he says was knowledgeable on many things.
- And he is philosophical about his success in taming the
wild animal and birds.
- "All living things have the same interests,"
- "Warring Somalis ought to learn a lesson from this.
I have brought together hawks, cats, chicken, cattle, goats and a hyena
who are all sworn enemies and they are all living harmoniously in one place.
It's time Somalis reflected and thought of their interests and stopped
- Mr Abdishakur has also kept the hawks separated in huge
cages fearing that they will mate and breed.
- He says he does not have the financial ability to support
any offspring at the moment.
- But for now he is the centre of attraction in this village
and people from both far and near come to his compound daily to marvel
at his rare catch.
- © BBC MMIV http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3619791.stm