Ok, so paying dues to the local Lion King means you get protection and he doesn't accidentally eat you (or your flock of spirit-buds). Subordinating your spirit-buds so they recognize you as the righteous dude who keeps the Lion King at bay means you get some grift. Roman-era tax collection at its finest. Everyone may hate you but you're in with the boss ... until he gets hungry.
But what's this that I've bolded? Larger spirits feed essence to their "vassal" (my words)? Ok... sounds like a bribe, but:
How extensively might that change them over time? Would that shift the hyena-spirit into a hyena-lion spirit and eventually a lion-hyena spirit? I get that amalgams result from unrestrained consumption of essence not of the same type, and that that tends to give said spirit a bad name around the block. But the idea of actually force-feeding lesser spirits as flocks is... well, as disturbing as anything around them I suppose?