Brown hyena expert Ingrid Wiesel wants to find her favorite study animal, named Tosca, who has disappeared from her home range on Namibia’s wild west coast. Ingrid has spent the last 17 years studying brown hyenas–now she must journey deep into Tosca’s world to discover what exactly has forced her to leave her traditional hunting grounds.
The story begins with Tosca’s disappearance who, since her brith nine years ago, has been the subject of Ingrid’s studies. Tosca is an efficient and hardworking hunter, and also a successful mother. So when Tosca and her clan disappear from their home range, Ingrid sets off on a journey to find her, traveling deep into the world of brown hyenas.
Ingrid’s journey takes her through some of Namibia’s most spectacular landscapes: down the wild coastal beaches which are popular resting and breeding sites for thousands of Cape fur seals; across the great dunes of the Namib deseart; and into the abandoned mining town of Elizabeth Bay, a ghost town which has been deserted for 60 years but whose crumbling empty buildings now provide ideal shelter for brown hyenas.
Central to Ingrid’s search for Tosca is a mission to understand why hyenas are abandoning their hunting grounds on the beach. A discovery of a mass seal die-off provides vital evidence that the ecosystem here is changing. Global warming is affecting ocean temperatures here and with that the seal population – the very food that coastal brown hyenas depend on. Despite their remote setting, these animals are being hit hard by climate change in ways that no one could have predicted.
In this clip from tonight’s special, “Hyena Coast,” Ingrid sets out to Bakers Bay, home of a large seal colony, to find Tosca–but finds an old friend, the first hyena she ever collared with GPS.
Don’t miss Hyena Coast this Sunday at 9P on Nat Geo WILD.