Meet the Hyena men of Northern Nigeria who perform dangerous stunts with hyenas
What if I told you there's a tribe in Nigeria that has tamed the wild and dangerous hyenas?
One of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa, the Hausa, makes up the majority of this group, which travels from city to city, drawing sizable crowds wherever they go.
Who are the Hyena men?
The men are natives of northern Nigeria's rural farms, where they hunt snakes, baboons, and young hyenas in the wild. They abduct young hyenas in order to use them in their street shows; they train them and bring them to the city.
It's rumoured that they use ancient magic to tame wild creatures. They are said to possess magical abilities, but some people even think they may be partially hyenas. Despite the superstitions that surround their profession, these men are travelling minstrels who perform with animals to get paid.
The Hyena Men follow a tradition that was passed down to them from their ancestors. A tradition that they also pass on to their offspring. They start giving their children potions at an early age and keep them close to baboons, hyenas, and snakes. This is done to help them become accustomed to the animals and get over their fear of them.
Their lifestyle sheds light on the conflict between the men and the wild, as well as the relationship that handlers have with the animals they care for—a bond that can be both caring and harsh at times. They defend their way of life when asked if what they do is morally acceptable by claiming that these creatures are their only source of livelihood.
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