Shamba – the Comeback Kids
Number of members: 50
Territory size: 19 km2
Alpha female: Chibo
– born: 28-12-2014
– alpha since: 03-01-2019
Characteristics of the clan:
- The name of the clan comes from “shamba ya faru” which means “field of the rhinos” in Swahili, and refers to an area of their territory where rhinos like to hang around.
- Was led by a male during a period of two years. A male leading a hyena clan is very rare and usually only happens when the alpha female dies and her highest-ranking offspring is a son.
- Was joined by three females from the Airstrip clan in 1998 when the clan was reduced to five members (1 female cub, 2 young males, 2 immigrant males) due to deaths of females and dispersal of young males. Females joining a clan has never before been reported in spotted hyenas.
- The number of adult clan members increased 5-fold within 8 years (from 12 to 60).
In portrait: Gorda & Lampone
Gorda was an extraordinary female hyena in many ways. In 2006, young Gorda became alpha female of the Shamba clan after leading a successful coup d’état against the coalition of the former queen. Gorda kept the alpha position until she died in December 2013.
The key to her long reign was the high frequency at which she reared offspring: with an average interval of 10.5 months between successive litters, she raised more cubs to adulthood than any other hyena female before her! Moreover, Gorda predominantly gave birth to daughters that then joined her coalition and reinforced her supremacy.
Gorda also was an exception when it came to choosing fathers for her offspring. Female hyenas normally are not very faithful and choose a different male for almost every litter. Gorda however chose a single male for almost all her litters: Lampone, an immigrant male from the Munge Clan. Gorda’s preference was reciprocal and Lampone would always keep an eye on her every movement and follow her wherever she went (see video below).
As a result, many females of the Shamba clan are daughters of Lampone. We are curious to see if this will cause Lampone to leave the Shamba clan or if he will father offspring with his own daughters.