By Mikey Jones
An Ethiopian dubbed the ‘hyena man’ is keeping his neighbours safe from the wild carnivores by feeding them every day – with his MOUTH.
Abbas Yusef lives in a small city near the Somali border called Harar, where hyenas – Africa’s second largest carnivore – have roamed the streets for years.
They have been known to attack people and livestock but Abbas and his family are driving down these hunger-driven attacks by feeding the snarling scavengers daily with leftover meat from the butchers market.
The ‘hyena man’ draws in the crowds with his fearless feeding technique in which he bites raw meat and feeds the spotted hyenas directly from his mouth.
His antics were recently caught on camera by UK-based photographer and film maker, Sam Rowley.
The 23-year-old from Bristol said people were surprised by his pictures.
He said: “People’s immediate response is usually a comment on the surprising size of the animals and then they ask if I was scared.
“To their surprise, I recount how strangely calm the experience was.
“The trust Abbas has for the animals is infectious. But when one sprinted out of a bush in my direction without seeing me, my natural instincts soon came back to me.
“However, it quickly subsided and gave into delight at the spectacle.
“There are hundreds of Africa’s second largest carnivore, the spotted hyena, in and around the small city of Harar.
“The beautiful old Muslim city, with its grand city walls and bustling local markets, came up with a solution of keeping dangerous predators from attacking them and their livestock.
“People began to feed the beasts porridge, and apparently in doing so kept any desperate hunger-driven attacks to an absolute minimum.
“Hyenas discovered the amount of unwanted food strewn through the streets, and quickly made a meal of this too, providing a street-cleaning service for the local people.
“Some years later, Abbas and his family began feeding the hyenas leftovers from the butchers’ market every evening.
“Now these traditions are dying out and Abbas is one of the last ‘hyena men’ of Harar.
“For as long as I can remember, my love for wildlife has dominated my life.
“As I’ve grown older, I’ve felt a compulsion to share stories from the natural world as a means to get people as excited by it as I am.”