Photograph by David Chancellor @chancellordavid - the unmistakable skulk of a spotted hyena - northern Kenya - Anthropologists are not zoologists - When they record the folklore and superstitions of the cultures they describe, they often don't distinguish between spotted and striped hyenas; although they are very different from both striped, and brown hyenas - Spotted hyenas are not scavengers, but hunt down at least 50% of their own food. Spotted hyena clans can contain up to 130 individuals, more than an order of magnitude greater than any other carnivore - But curiously, even local cultures often call the two species by the same name - - Medieval Europeans believed that sometimes a lioness would mate with a hyena to produce a strange hybrid called the leucrotta. The leucrotta had a human voice and could imitate human speech to lure travelers into its clutches - -Some African cultures have even stranger lore about hyenas. All over the continent, there are cultures that believe some witches can turn themselves into hyenas. In fact, the spotted hyena is to Africa what the black cat is in the U.S. the premier witch animal, uncanny and terrifying - The Wambugwe of Tanzania believe "every witch possesses one or more hyenas which are branded (invisibly to normal eyes) with his mark, and to which he refers as his 'night cattle.' Some people say that all hyenas are owned by witches, that there are no free or wild hyenas. At regular intervals, all witches of the land ride their hyenas to a prearranged place in the forest for a saturnalian gathering, where they boast of their evil deeds and perform obscene rites." - Supposedly the hyenas live and bear their young in the houses of witches, and the owner milks them once a day. It is dangerous to kill a hyena, for if its owner finds out he will kill the hunter with witchcraft - The accounts of the Wambugwe people paint a Goya-like picture of "a witch riding naked at full gallop through the night, mounted on a hyena and carrying a flaming torch which he refuels from time to time from a gourd of hyena butter slung over his shoulder." To see more work and projects follow me here @natgeo and @chancellordavid @thephotosociety