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Monday, April 19, 1999 Published at 20:06 GMT 21:06 UK

World: Africa

Lions see off hyenas

Lions have inflicted heavy casualties on the rival hyenas

The lion has again proved itself the king of beasts after a ferocious two-week battle in the Ethiopian desert.

Reports from Addis Ababa say a pride of lions killed 35 hyenas and drove off the rest for the loss of six of their own.

Ethiopian television showed sand billowing as a lion wrestled with six hyenas, with other lions watching.

Police said the rocky area in south-eastern Ethiopia was now firmly under the lions' control.

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Wildlife experts said that in any sustained conflict the smaller hyenas were always likely to incur more losses - despite possessing jaws which could crunch their way through elephant bones.

The two sides had been fighting for territory in Gobele desert, close to the district of Girawa, 450km east of Addis Ababa.

Prevailing drought conditions probably played a part in igniting the war.

Fierce battles raged every night. During the day the animals took cover in their dens, waiting for the sun to set.

The world's most successful predator - man - stayed out of the fight, as the combat zone was far from human settlement.

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