My friend Susan visited Harar in Ethiopia last week and brought some of her pictures across today. Harar is in the eastern part of Ethiopia, about three hundred and fifty miles from Addis. There are no trains, no planes; you have to travel by road and the safest way to travel is by early morning bus. The journey takes nine hours.
What is at Harar? It is the fourth most Islamic city of Islam with over eighty mosques and a hundred shrines within its city walls and tiny alleyways. There are markets and vividly colourful women carrying on normal North African life in the streets and squares. Plus, the wild hyenas.
The hyenas are fed by hyena men outside the city walls. It isn’t a tourist attraction, it is the township’s way of controlling the hyena population. By feeding them meat every night [camel meat] they prevent the hyenas from killing their cattle, which are allowed to roam free in the surrounding desert hills. Every night the hyena men go out of the city gates into the darkness and one by one the hyenas come up close below the walls to be fed. Instead of just leaving the meat or placing it in heaps, they have begun now to feed them by hand. Sounds terrifying but it means that each animal receives its fair share and won’t leave hungry.
Some tourists travel to Harar to watch all this and a few of the braver ones participate and hand-feed the hyenas alongside the hyena men, who are paid a small tribute of about $3 for looking out for them. Susan is one of these braver ones. The image shows her with a hyena with its claws on her back, while she holds a handful of camel meat above her head for the hyena to bite.
Couldn’t do that for a million quid.