The brown hyena according to MammalMAP
The brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea) is dark brown to black in colour with a sloped back, white neck and pointed ears. The front legs are stronger and better developed than the hind legs. All legs have a unique stripe pattern, which allow us to distinguish one hyena from another. Brown hyenas primarily scavenge their food. They feed on carcasses but also on fruit, bird eggs and insects. They also kill small mammals for food, although this behaviour is infrequent. They are unable to take down large prey items as their legs are not strong enough to do so. The main threat to the survival of these animals is human persecution. Although brown hyenas are perceived to be the killers of domestic livestock, their foraging strategy (described above) makes them unlikely livestock hunters. However, because of this perception, brown hyenas are often managed with lethal methods such as guns, poison and gin traps. The species is nocturnal and wide ranging, and despite being social animals, brown hyenas typically forage alone. These attributes make them very difficult to detect in the wild. This elusiveness probably explains why, approximately 40 years ago, brown hyenas were classified as endangered. However, today, thanks to the help of camera traps, we’ve found that brown hyenas are much more common than was previously thought. The Tswalu Brown Hyena Project was recently launched at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in the Northern Cape Province in South Africa. The team is studying the diet, population dynamic and conflicts with farmers. Follow the blog for more information about the project and about brown hyenas. For more information visit the MammalMAP virtual museum or blog.
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