A few days ago, in a bid to keep some third-graders amused, I dug out an old National Geographic book for children and together we browsed through the beautiful wildlife pictures. One of the pictures was an unattractive portrait of the much-maligned hyena, and I explained to the kids that hyenas are widely disliked – by humans at least – because of their practice of feeding upon dead animal carcasses, rather than making their own kills.
After the lesson, one of my brighter kids approached me and asked shyly, “Miss, why is it bad for hyenas to feed on dead animals? Don’t humans do the same thing?” Well, I didn’t really know how to answer him. I still don’t now.
Why is scavenging bad? Surely it’s actually a good thing, for the environment and all?