The Hyena Men

2013, Society  -   19 Comments
Storyline

In the early moments of The Hyena Men, a fascinating documentary short produced by CCTV Africa, we see performers interacting with a series of dangerous wild animals, including baboons, hyenas and poisonous snakes. Their daring feats aren't being performed on the glittering stages of Las Vegas, but on the crowded streets of Nigeria. It's part of a proud tradition passed on for many generations, and a source of great controversy among animal rights activists around the world.

In their off season, these men farm the land and deal in scrap metal to survive. But when it comes time to perform, they travel across the most populated country in Africa to the delight of thousands of hypnotized onlookers. This travelling circus thrives on the potentially perilous relationship between man and animal. Each performance is mixes wondrous spectacle with edge-of-your-seat suspense; after all, the audience is keenly aware that a deadly attack could occur at any moment.

The animal show is cleverly used as an alluring ploy to promote the real family business: herbs and medicines. The more dramatic the animal show, the bigger the audience. With bigger audiences comes more robust sales for their medicines.

This travelling troop has gained a mystical reputation over the years. Many Nigerians believe these men possess special powers which allow them to interact so gracefully with the most vicious members of the animal kingdom. In fact, their skills are the result of a carefully crafted tradition several generations in the making. It's a tribal heritage that they're born into, and they begin their training as young as ten years of age. Still, their way of life is not without its fair share of close calls as evidenced by the countless scars that blanket the forearm of one baboon trainer featured in the film.

Meanwhile, detractors find little thrill or entertainment in the work of the Hyena Men. For them, the act of snatching a wild animal from its habitat and recruiting it for a roadside circus show is unnecessarily cruel and harmful to the natural order.

The Hyena Men takes us deep inside this subculture, and introduces us to the performers who devote their lives to continuing this unusual tradition.

Directed by: Russell Bergh
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5.75
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Ratings: 5.75/10from 57 users.

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19 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Ray

    Just sad to see how many stupid people there are out there .not that Africa has a monopoly on stupidity it's a condition that effects some 90% of all humans. That they believe that sitting on a hyena makes you mortar active to the opposit sex is nuts. How about the poor kids who are traumatized for life after being forced to sit on an animal they instinctively know can kill them. Ridiculous.

  2. Fenna

    I wonder how many of the people posting 'animal cruelty' eat any animal products, and have ever seen how the conditions for these animals are. I find it rather hypocrite to accuse these people for making a living, in a country where over half of the population lives under $1 a day, while were doing the same thing (on way bigger scale and way worse) in Western countries. It's easy to judge them from your couch to tell them go get a decent job and call them animal abusers. Live in Nigeria for a few years under 1$ a day, and then you can comment.

  3. j. smith

    bunchababies -you are correct. There are too many no lifers making comments here, they should go and travel.The documentary is very well made and interesting.

  4. Berni

    Wow, Colin, THUGS? What criminal act did they commit? These are people who are trying to make a living in a land of few opportunities. Not like they can go down to the piggly Wiggly or Microsoft and get a job. This is no different than the snake charmers of India and north Africa or even the dog breeders in any town near you, but I suspect that you would not call them thugs for trying to support their families by the only means that they have at hand.
    Yes, it is a culture as defined by Webster which includes the definition of : The set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic.
    There are things that you do in your life and thinking like perhaps speaking back to your mother Swearing in front of women, or not respecting the wisdom of the old, or not sharing your good fortune with the poor, that would seem barbaric to them too.

  5. M. Knox

    I am a vegetarian, and I believe in animal rights. Yet, for each person that called out 'animal cruelty' over this documentary, you are simply ignorant and insulated in your artificial reality. This is the real world, this is happening in every nation, and those people, those CULTURES, will be more authentic, interesting and honest than any of you. If you want to change the lives of the extraordinary humans who live a life that you'll never comprehend, then move to Africa and educate them, one person at a time. Also, support their livelihoods while you "elevate" them to the sophisticated level of your comfort, which can boast free elections that elected a reality television star to president.

  6. Jane

    The monkeys seemed like they were doing alright. They showed some interest and would obviously bite the piss out of you if you made them mad. But, the hyenas looked miserable from beginning to end. Endlessly "lunging" and pulling away and nothing to do but be tied to a pole back home. The babies sat on their backs to protect the children from witches. Some of the little children ostracized for being witches there is so awful, too.

  7. OneStGermain

    We are all the same , and equal? Liberals say so!

  8. Foolmeonce

    Barbaric cruelty masking as "culture" yet again. Civilized society must not countenance animal exploitation. Ignorant and Shameful.

  9. bunchababies

    now I have to watch every low rated documentary on this site because people are obviously rating them based on how the documentary makes them feel and not the quality of production they are presented with. how sad, how weak and pathetic.
    "Wahh, this documentary depicts reality, wahhh, reality makes me sad therefore this is a bad documentary wahhhh."

  10. Elisa

    Im not impressed. Poor poor animals...How they suffer at our hands. They should be free ....to be in the wild.

  11. Rox

    The governance should develop science and education instead let people to believe in "special" power of those conmen and buy from them special herbs and medicine while they definitely abused those poor animals and fool people.

  12. Julia

    Terrible! Abuse!

  13. martin

    It's kind of reminiscent of Bertram Mills Circus -- an English show that traveled the length and breadth of the uk showing their 'tamed lions' and elephants that had been 'conditioned' to perform -- all the animals were abused - all for the sake of exploitation and profit,
    What I would like to have seen is all the hyena 'unmuzzled' and see then how the handlers would react - no doubt the would have been eaten.
    The Brits did it all those years ago - we called them menageries - all to 'turn' a quick buck. Good luck to the guys trying to earn a living when the WEST turn a blind eye.
    Shame about the poor animals - life goes on.

  14. Muhannad Faza

    Yes, Defiantly this animal cruelty , I do not think is related to any culture, for them it is a way of living, and if you look to their strong structures, and all of them are young. torturing the animals is not a career for living.

  15. Jamie

    I agree with the above comments. Very cruel and again, it's all about greed! These poor animals are being horribly abused in order for these greedy men to make money. Why don't they get a decent job and leave those poor animals alone!

  16. connie

    I couldn't watch after 5 min. Animal cruelty!!

  17. Dr Emberg, Tasmania

    Just too cruel for me.

  18. mike

    Simply animal abuse.

  19. Colin D

    This is animal cruelty and should not be defined as culture, these people are thugs who should be locked up for the cruelty they inflict.