Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The striped hyena is a well-studied animal; however, what is understood about the behaviour and ecology of the striped hyena is largely limited to studies undertaken in Kenya, Tanzania and Israel. There are anecdotal reports that elsewhere, such as east of Israel, their ecology could be substantially different (5). The striped hyena is most frequently seen singly or in pairs, although groups of up to seven can occur (3). Social contact is limited by the need to forage alone over very large ranges, which they do so under the cover of night (2) (6). When moving around regularly used paths within their territory, grass stalks are marked with a secretion from the anal pouch (2) (4), leaving a clear sign to any intruders of the owner's presence (4). If neighbouring hyenas do happen to meet, they fluff out their fur and erect their crest in an attempt to look intimidating and fights may erupt in which they nip at each others thick necks (2). The striped hyena is omnivorous and will feed opportunistically on almost anything it comes across as it roams great distances at night (2) (6). This includes seeds, leaves, fruits, insects, birds, fish, and many species of mammal (7). A competent hunter, a single striped hyena is known to be capable of killing prey up to the size of a donkey, and can even kill and eat tortoises despite their protective shell. It is rarely a fast enough runner to catch quick and alert animals, but can stalk and seize unaware hares, foxes and rodents. Striped hyenas also scavenge, feeding on scraps from garbage dumps in some areas (2). Female striped hyenas give birth to litters of one to four cubs after a gestation of 90 to 91 days (3). They give birth in a rocky den or a burrow, preferably dug by another animal (6). The hyena cubs open their eyes after seven to eight days, their teeth erupt after 21 days, and they begin to eat meat at an age of 30 days (3). The young cubs may suckle for up to a year (3), while they learn important foraging skills from their mother (2).
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Description

Like other hyenas, the striped hyena is dog-like in appearance, with powerful forequarters and a back that slopes down towards the tail. It gets its name from the black stripes on the sides of the pale grey or beige coat (2) (3), which is long and shaggy except for on the face and limbs (2). A crest of particularly long hair, running from the head to the tail, is erected in situations of conflict to make the hyena look larger and more intimidating (2) (4). The striped hyena has a long, thick neck, which along with the strong skull and jaw bones enables the hyena to break up dry bones (2). The black and white tail is long and bushy and the feet bear short, blunt claws (3)
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Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

"Occasionally sheep or goats, and more often dogs, are carried off by hyaenas, and the latter at all events are often taken alive to the animal's den. Jerdon relates an instance in which a small dog belonging to an officer at Dumoh was carried aw ay, but procured alive the next day from a cave by some sepoys, who killed the hyaena."
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Summary

The Striped Hyaena is the smallest of true hyaneas . It is nocturnal and largely a scavenger. It has a habit of feigning death when attacked. They live in groups of 1-2 individuals and are generally not territorial.
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Distribution

Range Description

The Striped Hyaena has a very large, albeit now patchy distribution, extending from Africa, north of and including the Sahel, and including much of East and North-east Africa south to about central Tanzania, through the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula, Turkey, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent, though not reaching Assam, Bhutan or Myanmar. They may have recently expanded into Nepal (Hofer and Mills 1998a).

Although historically present, there are no reliable recent records of occurrence in Sudan, Eritrea, or Somalia in Africa, or in Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, or Afghanistan in the Asian range (Hofer and Mills 1998a). Although the latter authors could find no recent records for Syria, there are recent records from the Palmyra area and elsewhere (Masseti 2004; G. Serra pers. comm.). Kasparek et al. (2004) discuss the recent distribution of the species in Turkey.
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Distribution in Egypt

Widespread.

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Geographic Range

Northern and Eastern Africa, the Middle East, India, and Asia extending north to the Caucasus and southern Siberia.

Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native )

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Range

The striped hyena once occurred from Britain to China, but today it is found in north and north-east Africa, as far south as Tanzania; throughout the Middle East and Arabia into northern India (2).
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Physical Description

Morphology

"Colour dirty grey, with narrow transverse tawny or blackish stripes on the body and legs. Neck and back maned. Tail about three sevenths the length of the body, aud clothed with long hair. Hair of the median line on the neck and back long, forming a crest or mane. The hind legs considerably bent and shorter than the fore, the hind feet much smaller than the fore feet. A large post-anal glandular pouch receiving the secretions of the large anal scent-glands."
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Physical Description

Height: 65-80 cm The average length of the striped hyena from head to tail is one meter. Males and females do not differ in average height or length, but males do tend to be slightly heavier. They are a long-haired hyena with large, pointed ears. The striped hyena can erect the long hair on its mane and appear 38% bigger, which it does when it feels threatened. They are gray to straw-colored with a black muzzle and black stripes on their head, torso, and legs.

Range mass: 25 to 45 kg.

Average basal metabolic rate: 31.954 W.

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Size

"Length of one, 3 feet 6 inches to root of tail ; tail 17 inches."
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
In most of its range the Striped Hyaena occurs in open habitat or light thorn bush country in arid to semi-arid environments (Hofer 1998; Wagner in press). It avoids open desert (such as the centre of the Arabian desert and the Sahara, though they may occur at low density in the central Saharan massifs), dense thickets and forests, and also avoids high altitudes; however, it has been recorded to 3,300 m in Pakistan (Roberts 1977), 2,700 m in the Moroccan High Atlas (Cuzin 2003), and at least to 2,300 m in the Ethiopian Highlands (Yalden et al. 1996). Striped Hyaena are sometimes found close to dense human settlements (e.g., Israel and Algeria). Individuals have been recorded 19 km south of Tel Aviv, 5 km east of the international airport and on the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway near Mount Carmel (Hofer 1998; and references therein), and in the suburbs of Algiers (K. de Smet pers. comm. 2007). Striped Hyaenas are unafraid of humans and frequently forage on garbage and carrion near to human habitation (K. de Smet, F. Cuzin and M. Masseti pers. comm.). Young animals are even kept as pets in some areas.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The striped hyena lives in arid, mountainous regions with scrub woodland. It dens in rocky hills, ravines, and crevices. It also inhabits open savannah areas with dense grassland in some regions. In Africa, it is outcompeted by the spotted hyena in open areas and is thus relegated to other habitats.

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; scrub forest

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Striped hyenas inhabit dry areas, from savanna to true desert, from sea level up to 3,000 metres (2).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The striped hyena is predominantly a scavenger; its diet consisting mainly of carrion and human refuse. It scavenges large and medium-sized mammals, such as zebras, wildebeests, gazelles, and impalas, even eating bones from carcasses if the meat has been picked off. It supplements its diet with fruit, insects, and occasionally by killing small animals like hare, rodents, reptiles, and birds. The striped hyena forages principally at night, individually travelling throughout its home range searching for food in no apparent pattern. Travelling speeds average 2-4 km/h, occasionally increasing to 8 km/h when trotting. Wind direction is not used to determine direction of travel, but the striped hyena will respond quickly to the scent of carrion brought by the wind. It also visits established food sites, such as garbage dumps around human settlements, fruit trees, and temporary sites of large kills. Water is consumed every night if it is available, but the striped hyena can survive without water for long periods and live under desert conditions.

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Associations

Threatened Vertebrate Associates in the Hindu Kush Alpine Meadow Ecoregion

The Hindu Kush alpine meadow has an expanse of some 10,900 square miles, situated in northeastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. Most of the lands lie within the Hindu Kush Mountain Range in  the altitude bracket between 3000 to 4000 meters, and correspondingly most of the precipitation is in the form of snow. This ecoregion is classified within the Montane Grasslands and Shrublands biome.

This ecoregion manifests a low rate of vertebrate endemism; however there are ten special status mammals found here, ranging from the status of Endangered to Near Threatened. The Hindu Kush alpine meadow ecoregion consists of higher elevation terrain of moderate to severe slopes. Vegetation is often sparse or almost lacking, with resulting pastoral usage of low intensity grazing of goats and sheep in some areas. Soils are largely leptosols, but many areas are covered by large expanses of rock outcrop or rocky scree. In the limited areas of arable soils, wheat is sometimes farmed, although growing of opium poppies is the only cash crop. Most of the water available for plant and animal life is supplied by snowmelt. The Helmand River, Afghanistan's largest watercourse, represents the chief catchment within the ecoregion, with headwaters rising in the Hindu Kush Range, and eventual discharge to the endorheic Sistan Basin.

Special status mammals found in the Hindu Kush alpine meadow are: the Near Threatened argali (Ovis ammon), the Vulnerable Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), the Near Threatened European otter (Lutra lutra), the Near Threatened leopard (Panthera pardus), the Endangered markhor (Capra falconeri), the Near Threatened mountain weasel (Mustela altaica), the Near Threatened Schreiber's long-fingered bat (Miniopteris schreibersi), the Endangered snow leopard (Uncia uncia), the Near Threatened striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) and the Endangered Moschus leucogaster. Special status birds in the Hindu Kush alpine meadow are represented by the Endangered Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopteris).

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Known prey organisms

Hyaena hyaena preys on:
Ammodorcas clarkei
Papio papio

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Behaviour

"The hyaena is most common in the drier parts of India, and its chief haunts are rocky hills and deep ravines, It is quite nocturnal, sallying forth after dark and hunting for carcasses, the bones of which it gnaws, occasionally catching some prowling dog, or stray sheep. The principal food of the hyaena consists of the carcases of animals that have died of disease or been killed by beasts of prey, and very often it carries off portions of the body to, its den. In general it is safe in its lair long before sunrise. During the night it roams far and wide, and no tracks of wild animals are more common, in the countries where it is found, than its unmistakable footprints, very like a dog's in shape, but with the marks of the hind feet conspicuously smaller than those of the fore feet. Its den is in a hole dug by itself on the side of a hill or ravine, or a cave in a rock. Fragments of bones are often found around a hyaena's retreat, together with the peculiar dung of the animal, which dries into hard white balls, known as alba graca, chiefly composed of fragments of bone, and so indestructible that they have been found fossilized in caves that had been tenanted by extinct forms of these animals. The call of the Hyaena is a very disagreeable unearthly cry. The hyaena is universally despised for its cowardice ; despite its powerful teeth, it rarely attemps to defend itself."
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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
24.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
24.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 25 years (captivity) Observations: One wild born specimen was about 25 years old when it died in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Breeding is nonseasonal, beginning at two to three years. One to six cubs are born per litter, after a 88-92 day gestation. No detailed studies of sexual behavior in the striped hyena have been published. Based on observations in captivity, estrus lasts one day, with the female mating several times at 15-25 minute intervals throughout the day. The mother brings food to the den for her cubs after they are one month old, but continues to nurse for approximately 12 months.

Average birth mass: 700 g.

Average gestation period: 90 days.

Average number of offspring: 2.5.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
800 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
800 days.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Hyaena hyaena

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hyaena hyaena

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Arumugam, R., Wagner, A. & Mills, G.

Reviewer/s
Mills, G. (Hyaena Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Near Threatened as the global population size is estimated to be below 10,000 mature individuals, and experiences ongoing deliberate and incidental persecution coupled with a decrease in its prey base such that it may come close to meeting a continuing decline of 10% over the next three generations (almost qualifies as threatened under criterion C1).
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Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1 Year Published: 2008
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It seems to be rather compatible with human populations, and its habitat is readily available and not in danger of disappearing.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

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Status in Egypt

Native, resident.

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Status

Classified as Lower Risk / Near Threatened (LR/nt) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1). Subspecies: Hyaena hyaena barbara (Barbary hyena) is classified as Data Deficient (DD) (1).
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Population

Population
Hofer and Mills (1998b) estimated the total population of Striped Hyaena at 5,000 to 14,000 individuals (see Table 5.2 in Hofer and Mills 1998b). Such an assessment of the current population trends of the Striped Hyaena is complicated by a number of problems (they are nocturnal, solitary, occur at low densities often in rugged country, sightings are infrequent, and surveys difficult to carry out). Moreover, in areas where the range of the Striped Hyaena overlaps with that of the Spotted Hyaena and the Aardwolf, few people acknowledge or recognize a difference between the three hyaenid species. Nonetheless, even if the overall population is larger than this estimate, based on their questionnaire survey, Hofer and Mills (1998b) found that the Striped Hyaena is already extinct in many localities and that populations are generally declining throughout its range.

As noted, Striped Hyaenas occur at low population densities. A large study in Laikipia District, central Kenya, estimated the minimum regional density at 0.03 adults/km² (Wagner 2006), while van Aarde et al. (1998) more than 0.016/km² in the Negev Desert (see also Table 5.1 in Hofer and Mills 1998b).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The major reasons for the apparent decline include persecution (especially poisoning), decreasing natural and domestic sources of carrion due to declines in the populations of other large carnivores (wolf, cheetah, leopard, lion, tiger) and their prey, and changes in livestock practices (Hofer 1998). Humans are consistently indicated as the major source of mortality throughout the evaluated range, largely because the hyaena is loathed as a grave robber, and because of incidents of damage to agriculture (e.g. in Israel) and livestock (Hofer 1998; Wagner in press). Striped Hyaena are very susceptible to accidental or targeted poisoning as it readily accepts strychnine-poisoned bait. For example, along the Mediterranean coast in Israel, the Striped Hyaena was exterminated by strychnine poisoning during the rabies eradication campaign administered by the British government between 1918 and 1948. The Striped Hyaenas ate poisoned donkey carcasses that were provided to control golden jackals, then the main carrier of rabies. Further large-scale poisoning occurred between 1950 and 1970 (Hofer 1998). In the Palmyra area in Syria, the species is heavily persecuted (including destruction or blockage of dens, poisoning carcasses, or the use of the fire to chase animals out of dens). There is also illegal trade in skins, and body parts for use in traditional medicine (as there is elsewhere in the range), and they are often kept in cages for display purposes (G. Serra pers. comm.). The species is commercially hunted in Morocco for use in traditional medicine, with various parts being used (especially the brain) and may fetch very high prices. Hunters may travel hundreds of kilometres to capture this species (F. Cuzin pers. comm. 2007).
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The major threat is persecution and poisoning.
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One of the greatest threats to the striped hyena is the misconceptions and superstitions of humans. Believed to be responsible for killing livestock, robbing graves and the disappearance of small children, the striped hyena is severely persecuted through baiting, tracking and trapping. In the past, some governments have paid bounties for every hyena killed, and today the Indian government still organises killings of wolves and striped hyenas in places where carnivores are thought to be responsible for child disappearances. Even when not deliberately persecuted, striped hyenas are often poisoned by bait laid out for other carnivores, captured in traps set by fur trappers for other species, and killed in traffic accidents (3). The once very abundant striped hyena has now declined over most of its range and is extinct in many localities (2) (3); a result of not only those threats listed above, but also caused by a decline in carrion due to decreasing populations of other large carnivores (such as wolves, leopards and tigers) and their prey (3).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Striped Hyaena are present in numerous protected areas across their vast range. Because they exist outside of formally protected areas in regions where pastoralism is the norm and the potential for human-carnivore conflict is very high (for example, in Egypt and Kenya), particular attention should be paid to identifying ways to reduce human-carnivore conflict through promotion of methods that ensure adequate numbers of prey persist and/or methods that reduce livestock killing by carnivores (Wagner in press).
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Conservation

The striped hyena occurs in several protected areas throughout its range including Ranthambore National Park in India (8), and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, a World Heritage Site (9). In 1998, the Hyaena Specialist Group published a Conservation Action Plan which outlines actions required to improve the conservation status of all hyena species (3). The actions detailed for the striped hyena include campaigning for increased protection of the species throughout its range, and undertaking further studies of its behaviour, ecology and biology. It is also recognised that one of the most important, and possibly difficult, challenges, is to alter people's negative perception of hyenas. Before the striped hyena and its relatives are viewed in a more positive light, it will be difficult to improve the status of these fascinating animals (3).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are not many negative benefits. They rarely attack livestock or people and are unaggressive, often allowing dogs to attack them without attempting to defend themselves.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The striped hyena has some benefit in that it consumes unwanted human refuse. In some instances, villages in Africa leave their garbage outside at night for the striped hyenas to feed on. It is not hunted for food purposes nor for its pelt.

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Wikipedia

Striped hyena

The striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) is a species of true hyena native to North and East Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. It is listed by the IUCN as near threatened, as the global population is estimated to be under 10,000 mature individuals which continues to experience deliberate and incidental persecution along with a decrease in its prey base such that it may come close to meeting a continuing decline of 10% over the next three generations.[1]

It is the smallest of the true hyenas and retains many primitive viverrid characteristics lost in larger species,[4] having a smaller and less specialised skull.[5][6] Though primarily a scavenger, large specimens have been known to kill their own prey,[7] and attacks on humans have occurred on rare instances.[8] The striped hyena is a monogamous animal, with both males and females assisting one another in raising their cubs.[9] A nocturnal animal, the striped hyena typically only emerges in complete darkness, and is quick to return to its lair before sunrise.[10] Though it has a habit of feigning death when attacked, it has also been known to stand its ground against larger predators such as leopards in disputes over food.[11]

The striped hyena features prominently in Middle Eastern and Asian folklore. In some areas, its body parts are considered magical, and are used as charms or talismans.[12] It is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, where it is referred to as tzebua or zevoa, though the species is absent in some English translations.[13]

Evolution[edit]

The species may have evolved from H. namaquensis of Pliocene Africa. Striped hyena fossils are common in Africa, with records going back as far as the Middle Pleistocene and even to the Villafranchian. As fossil striped hyenas are absent from the Mediterranean region, it is likely that the species is a relatively late invader to Eurasia, having likely spread outside Africa only after the extinction of spotted hyenas in Asia at the end of the Ice Age. The striped hyena occurred for some time in Europe during the Pleistocene, having been particularly widespread in France and Germany. It also occurred in Montmaurin, Hollabrunn in Austria, the Furninha Cave in Portugal and the Genista Caves in Gibraltar. The European form was similar in appearance to modern populations, but was larger, being comparable in size to the brown hyena.[4]

Physical description[edit]

Build[edit]

Skull, as drawn by V. N. Lyakhov.
Dentition, as illustrated in Knight's Sketches in Natural History
Skeleton.

The striped hyena has a fairly massive, but short torso set on long legs. The hind legs are significantly shorter than the forelimbs, thus causing the back to slope downwards. The legs are relatively thin and weak, with the forelegs being bent at the carpal region. The neck is thick, long and largely immobile, while the head is heavy and massive with a shortened facial region. The eyes are small, while the sharply pointed ears are very large, broad and set high on the head. Like all hyenas, the striped hyena has bulky pads on its paws, as well as blunt but powerful claws. The tail is short and the terminal hairs do not descend below the calcaneal tendon.[14] The striped hyena lacks the enlarged clitoris and false scrotal sack noted in the female genitalia of the spotted hyena.[15] The female has 3 pairs of teats.[16] Adult weight can range from 22 to 55 kg (49 to 121 lb), averaging at about 35 kg (77 lb). Body length can range from 85 to 130 cm (33 to 51 in), not counting a tail of 25 to 40 cm (9.8 to 15.7 in), and shoulder height is between 60–80 cm (24–31 in).[17][18][19][20] The male has a large pouch of naked skin located at the anal opening. Large anal glands open into it from above the anus. Several sebaceous glands are present between the openings of the anal glands and above them.[21] The anus can be everted up to a length of 5 cm, and is everted during social interaction and mating. When attacked, the striped hyena everts its rectum and sprays a pungent smelling liquid from its anal glands.[22] Its eyesight is acute, though its senses of smell and hearing are weak.[23]

The skull is entirely typical of the genus, having a very high sagittal crest, a shortened facial region and an inflated frontal bone.[24] The skull of the striped hyena differs from that of the brown[6] and spotted hyena by its smaller size and slightly less massive build. It is nonetheless still powerfully structured and well adapted to anchoring exceptionally strong jaw muscles[5] which give it enough bite-force to splinter a camel's thigh bone.[23] Although the dentition is overall smaller than that of the spotted hyena, the upper molar of the striped hyena is far larger.[5] The dental formula is:

Dentition
3.1.4.0-1
3.1.3.1

Fur[edit]

The winter coat is unusually long and uniform for an animal its size, with a luxuriant mane of tough, long hairs along the back from the occiput to the base of the tail. The coat is generally coarse and bristly, though this varies according to season. In winter, the coat is fairly dense, soft, and has well-developed underfur. The guard hairs are 50–75 mm long on the flanks, 150–225 mm long on the mane and 150 mm on the tail. In summer, the coat is much shorter and coarser, and lacks underfur, though the mane remains large.[14]

In winter, the coat is usually of a dirty-brownish grey or dirty gray colour. The hairs of the mane are light grey or white at the base, and black or dark brown at the tips. The muzzle is dark, greyish brown, brownish-grey or black, while the top of the head and cheeks are more lightly coloured. The ears are almost black. A large black spot is present on the front of the neck, and is separated from the chin by a light zone. A dark field ascends from the flanks ascending to the rear of the cheeks. The inner and outer surface of the forelegs are covered with small dark spots and transverse stripes. The flanks have four indistinct dark vertical stripes and rows of diffused spots. The outer surface of the thighs has 3–4 distinct vertical or oblique dark bands which merge into transverse stripes in the lower portion of the legs. The tip of the tail is black with white underfur.[14]

Geographic variation[edit]

As of 2005,[3] no subspecies are recognised. The striped hyena is nonetheless a geographically varied animal. Hyenas in the Arabian peninsula have an accentuated blackish dorsal mane, with mid-dorsal hairs reaching 20 cm in length. The base colour of Arabian hyenas is grey to whitish grey, with dusky grey muzzles and buff yellow below the eyes. Hyenas in Israel have a dorsal crest which is mixed grey and black in colour, rather than being predominantly black.[17] The largest striped hyenas come from the Middle East, Asia minor, central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, while those of east Africa and the Arabian peninsula are smaller.[7][25]

Behavior[edit]

A pair of striped hyenas fighting at the Colchester Zoo

Social and territorial behaviours[edit]

The striped hyena is a primarily nocturnal animal, which typically only leaves its den at the onset of total darkness, returning before sunrise.[10] Striped hyenas typically live in groups of 1–2 animals, though groups of up to seven animals are known in Libya. They are generally not territorial animals, with home ranges of different groups often overlapping each other. Home ranges in the Serengheti have been recorded to be 44 km2 (17 sq mi)-72 km2 (28 sq mi), while one in the Negev desert was calculated at 61 km2 (24 sq mi). When marking their territory, striped hyenas use the paste of their anal pouch (hyena butter) to scent mark grass, stalks, stones, tree trunks and other objects. In aggressive encounters, the black patch near the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae is erected. When fighting, striped hyenas will bite at the throat and legs, but avoid the mane, which serves as a signalling device. When greeting each other, they lick the mid-back region, sniff each other's noses, extrude their anal pouch or paw each other's throats.[26] The species is not as vocal as the spotted hyena, its vocalisations being limited to a chattering laugh and howling.[23]

Illustration from Frank Finn's Wild Beasts of the World (1909)

Reproduction and development[edit]

The striped hyena is monogamous, with the male helping the female to establish a den, raise young and feed her when cubs are born. The mating season varies according to location; in Transcaucasia, hyenas breed in January–February, while those in southeast Turkmenia breed in October–November. In captivity, breeding is non-seasonal. Mating can occur at any time of the day, during which the male grips the skin of the female's neck.[9]

The gestation period lasts 90–91 days. Striped hyena cubs are born with adult markings, closed eyes and small ears. This is in marked contrast to newborn spotted hyena cubs which are born almost fully developed, though with black, unmarked coats.[27] Their eyes open after 7–8 days, and leave their dens after one month. Cubs are weaned at the age of 2 months, and are then fed by both parents. Despite the males' assistance, female hyenas are very protective of their cubs, and will chase their mates away from the cubs if they approach too closely. By autumn, the cubs are half the size of their parents. In the wild, striped hyenas can live for 12 years, while in captivity they have been known to reach 23.[9]

Burrowing behaviours[edit]

The striped hyena may dig its own dens, but it also establishes its lairs in caves, rock fissures, erosion channels and burrows formerly occupied by porcupines, wolves, warthogs and aardvarks. Hyena dens can be identified by the presence of bones at their entrances. The striped hyena hides in caves, niches, pits, dense thickets, reeds and plume grass during the day to shelter from predators, heat or winter cold. The size and elaboration of striped hyena dens varies according to location ; dens in the Karakum have entrances 0.67–0.72 m wide and are extended over a distance of 4.15–5 m, with no lateral extensions or special chambers. In contrast, hyena dens in Israel are much more elaborate and large, exceeding 27 m in length.[26][28]

Diet[edit]

Stuffed striped hyena defending a sheep carcass from hooded crows, as shown in The Museum of Zoology, St. Petersburg

The striped hyena is primarily a scavenger which feeds mainly on ungulate carcasses in different stages of decomposition, fresh bones, cartilages, ligaments and bone marrow. It crushes long bones into fine particles and swallows them, though sometimes entire bones are eaten whole.[29] The striped hyena is not a fussy eater, though it has an aversion to vulture flesh.[30] It will occasionally attack and kill any animal it can overcome.[11] It hunts prey by running it down, grabbing its flanks or groin and inflicting mortal wounds by tearing out the viscera.[31] In Turkmenistan, the species is recorded to feed on wild boar, kulan, porcupines and tortoises. A seasonal abundance of oil willow fruits is an important food source in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, while in the Caucasuses, it is grasshoppers.[29] In Israel, the striped hyena feeds on garbage, carrion and fruits. In eastern Jordan, its main sources of food are feral horse and water buffalo carcasses and village refuse. It has been suggested that only the large hyenas of the Middle East, Asia minor, central Asia and the Indian subcontinent attack large prey, with no evidence of their smaller Arabian and east African cousins doing so.[7] Because of its scavenging diet, the striped hyena requires more water to survive than most other carnivores.[29] When eating, the striped hyena gorges itself until satisfied, though hyenas with cubs will transport food to their dens.[30] Because of the high content of calcium in its diet, the faeces of the striped hyena becomes white very rapidly, and can be visible from long distances.[28]

Relationships with other predators[edit]

The striped hyena competes with the gray wolf in the Middle East and central Asia. In the latter area, a great portion of the hyena's diet stems from wolf-killed carcasses. The striped hyena is dominant over the wolf on a one to one basis, though wolves in packs can displace single hyenas from carcasses.[26] Both species have been known to share dens on occasion.[32] Red foxes may compete with striped hyenas on large carcasses. Red foxes may give way to hyenas on unopened carcasses, as the latter's stronger jaws can easily tear open flesh which is too tough for foxes. Foxes may harass hyenas, using their smaller size and greater speed to avoid the hyena's attacks. Sometimes, foxes seem to deliberately torment hyenas even when there is no food at stake. Some foxes may mistime their attacks, and are killed.[33]

The species frequently scavenges from the kills of felids such as tigers, leopards, cheetahs and caracals. A caracal can drive a subadult hyena from a carcass. The hyena usually wins in one-to-one disputes over carcasses with leopards, cheetahs and tiger cubs, but is dominated by adult tigers.[11][26]

Range and population[edit]

The striped hyena's historical range encompasses Africa north of and including the Sahel zone, eastern Africa south into Tanzania, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East up to the Mediterranean shores, Turkey, Iraq, the Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia), Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan (excluding the higher areas of Hindukush) and the Indian Subcontinent. Today the species' distribution is patchy in most ranges, thus indicating that it occurs in many isolated populations, particularly in most of west Africa, most of the Sahara, parts of the Middle East, the Caucasus and central Asia. It does however have a continuous distribution over large areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Its modern distribution in Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan is unknown with some sizable large number in India in open areas of Deccan Peninsula.[34]

Relationships with humans[edit]

In folklore and mythology[edit]

Striped hyena pugmark/track in wet clay. Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
A striped hyena, as depicted on the Nile mosaic of Palestrina

Striped hyenas are frequently referenced in Middle Eastern literature and folklore, typically as symbols of treachery and stupidity.[41] In the Near and Middle East, striped hyenas are generally regarded as physical incarnations of jinns.[12] Arab writer Al-Quazweeni (1204–1283) spoke of a tribe of people called Al-Dabeyoun meaning "hyena people". In his book Aajeb Al-Makhlouqat he wrote that should one of this tribe be in a group of 1000 people, a hyena could pick him out and eat him.[41] A Persian medical treatise written in 1376 tells how to cure cannibalistic people known as kaftar, who are said to be “half-man, half-hyena”.[12] Al-Doumairy in his writings in Hawayan Al-Koubra (1406) wrote that striped hyenas were vampiric creatures that attacked people at night and sucked the blood from their necks. He also wrote that hyenas only attacked brave people. Arab folklore tells of how hyenas can mesmerise victims with their eyes or sometimes with their pheromones.[41] In a similar vein to Al-Doumairy, the Greeks, until the end of the 19th century, believed that the bodies of werewolves, if not destroyed, would haunt battlefields as vampiric hyenas which drank the blood of dying soldiers.[42] The image of striped hyenas in Afghanistan, India and Palestine is more varied. Though feared, striped hyenas were also symbolic for love and fertility, leading to numerous varieties of love medicine derived from hyena body parts. Among the Baluch and in northern India, witches or magicians are said to ride striped hyenas at night.[12]

The Arab word for striped hyenas, dhubba, is alluded in a valley in Israel known as Shaqq-ud-Diba (meaning "cleft of the hyenas") and Wadi-Abu-Diba (meaning "valley of the hyenas"). Both places have been interpreted by some scholars as being the Biblical Valley of Zeboim mentioned in 1 Samuel 13:18. The Hebrew word for hyena is tzebua or zevoa, which literally means "howling creature". Though the Authorized King James Version of the Bible interprets this word (which appears in Jeremiah 12:9) as referring to a "speckled bird", Henry Baker Tristram argued that it was most likely a hyena being mentioned.[13]

In gnostic thought, the Archon Astaphaios is depicted with a hyena face.[43]

Livestock and crop predation[edit]

The striped hyena is sometimes implicated in the killing of livestock, particularly goats, sheep, dogs and poultry. Larger stock is sometimes reportedly taken, though it is possible that these are cases of scavenging mistaken for actual predation. Although most attacks occur at low densities, a substantial number reputedly occur in Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, and possibly Morocco. In Turkmenistan, they kill dogs, while they kill dogs, sheep and other small animals in the Caucasus. Striped hyenas were recorded to kill horses and donkeys in 1950s Iraq. Dogs, sheep and goats are occasionally at risk in Africa. Sheep and goats are also preyed upon in North Africa, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, and India, donkeys in North Africa, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, and India, horses in Iran and dogs in India.[44]

Striped hyenas also cause damage on occasion to melon fields and to date palms in date plantations in Israel and Egypt, and to water and honey melon plantations in Turkmenistan.[44]

Attacks on humans and grave desecration[edit]

Engraving of a striped hyena attacking a man in The Naturalist's Cabinet (1806)

In ordinary circumstances, striped hyenas are extremely timid around humans, though they may show bold behaviours toward people at night.[10] On rare occasions, striped hyenas have preyed on humans. In the 1880s, a hyena was reported to have attacked humans, especially sleeping children, over a three-year period in the Erivan Governorate, with 25 children and 3 adults being wounded in one year. The attacks provoked local authorities into announcing a reward of 100 rubles for every hyena killed. Further attacks were reported later in some parts of Transcaucasia, particularly in 1908. Instances are known in Azerbaijan of striped hyenas killing children sleeping in courtyards during the 1930s and 1940s. In 1942, a sleeping guard was mauled in his hut by a hyena in Golyndzhakh. Cases of children being taken by hyenas by night are known in southeast Turkmenia's Bathyz Nature Reserve. A further attack on a child was reported around Serakhs in 1948.[8] Several attacks have occurred in India ; in 1962, nine children were thought to have been taken by hyenas in the town of Bhagalpur in the Bihar State in a six-week period[13] and 19 children up to the age of four were killed by hyenas in Karnataka, Bihar in 1974.[45] A census on wild animal attacks during a five-year period in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh showed that hyenas had only attacked three people, the lowest figure when compared to deaths caused by wolves, gaur, boar, elephants, tigers, leopards and sloth bears.[46]

Though attacks on live humans are rare, striped hyenas will scavenge on human corpses. In Turkey, stones are placed on graves to stop hyenas digging the bodies out. In World War I, the Turks imposed conscription (safar barlek) on mount Lebanon. People escaping from the conscription fled north, where many died and were subsequently eaten by hyenas.[41]

Hunting[edit]

Hyena (1739) by Jean-Baptiste Oudry
A striped hyena being speared in British India, as illustrated in the Illustrated London News

Striped hyenas were hunted by Ancient Egyptian peasants for duty and amusement along with other animals that were a threat to crops and livestock.[47] Algerian hunters historically considered the killing of striped hyenas as beneath their dignity, due to the animal's reputation for cowardice.[48] A similar attitude was held by British sportsmen in British India.[11] Although striped hyenas are capable of quickly killing a dog with a single bite,[32] they usually feign death when escape from hunting dogs is impossible, and will remain in this state for long periods, even when badly bitten.[23] On some rare occasions, hyenas were ridden down and speared by men on horseback. Although hyenas were generally not fast enough to outrun horses, they had the habit of doubling and turning frequently during chases, thus ensuring long pursuits. Generally though, hyenas were hunted more as pests than sporting quarries; their scavenging damages skulls, skins and other articles from hunter's camps, which made them unpopular among sportsmen.[49] In the Soviet Union, hyena hunting was not specially organised. Most hyenas were caught incidentally in traps meant for other animals.[50] Some hunters in southern Punjab, Kandahar and Quetta, catch striped hyenas to use them in hyena-baiting. The hyenas are pitted against specially trained dogs, and are restrained with ropes in order to pull them away from the dogs if necessary.[12] In Kandahar, hunters locally called payloch (naked foot) hunt striped hyenas by entering their dens naked with a noose in hand. When the hyena is cornered at the end of its lair, the hunter murmurs the magic formula “turn into dust, turn into stone,” which causes the animal to enter a hypnotic state of total submission, by which point the hunter can slip a noose over its forelegs and, finally, drag it out of the cave.[12] A similar method was once practised by Mesopotamian Arab hunters, who would enter hyena dens and "flatter" the animal, which they believed could understand Arabic. The hunter would murmur "You are very nice and pretty and quite like a lion ; indeed, you are a lion". The hyena would then allow the hunter to place a noose around its neck and pose no resistance on being dragged out of its lair.[48]

Because of its coarse and sparse pelage, the striped hyena is not considered a furbearer, with the few skins sold by hunters often being marketed as poor quality dog or wolf fur. Hyena skins were however once used in preparing chamois leather. The selling price of hyena pelts in the Soviet Union ranged from 45 kopeks to 1 ruble, 80 kopeks.[50]

Striped hyenas as food[edit]

An Ancient Egyptian mural showing a striped hyena being forcefed

A mural depicted on Mereruka's tomb in Sakkara indicates that Old Kingdom Egyptians forcefed hyenas in order to fatten them up for food, though certain scholars have argued that the depicted animals were really aardwolves. Striped hyenas are still eaten by Egyptian peasants, Arabian Bedouins, Palestinian laborers, Sinai Bedouins and Tuaregs.[47] In the Muslim regions of Sistan, Kohat, Bannu, and Cholistan, striped hyena meat is considered halal under the Shafiite school, and can therefore be consumed. This represents an exception to the rule that predatory animals are not to be eaten, due to their being haraam. This stems from the fact that the striped hyena is an omnivore, rather than a purely carnivorous animal. Among the Bedouin of Arabia, the striped hyena is permitted for human consumption, though hyena meat is generally considered more as a medicine than as food.[12]

Striped hyenas in folk magic[edit]

The Ancient Greeks and Romans believed the blood, excrement, rectum, genitalia, eyes, tongue, hair, skin, and fat, as well as the ash of different parts of the striped hyena's body, were effective means to ward off evil and to ensure love and fertility. The Greeks and Romans believed that the genitalia of a hyena “would hold a couple peaceably together” and that a hyena anus worn as an amulet on the upper arm would make its male possessor irresistible to women. In West and South Asia, hyena body parts apparently play an important role in love magic and in the making of amulets. In Iranian folklore, it is mentioned that a stone found in the hyenas body can serve as a charm of protection for whoever wears it on his upper arm. In the Pakistani province of Sindh, the local Muslims place the tooth of a striped hyena over churns in order not to lose the milk's baraka. In Iran, a dried striped hyena pelt is considered a potent charm which forces all to succumb to the possessors attraction. In Afghanistan and Pakistan striped hyena hair is used either in love magic or as a charm in sickness. Hyena blood has been held in high regard in northern India as potent medicine, and the eating of the tongue helps fight tumors. In the Khyber area, burned striped hyena fat is applied to a man's genitals or sometimes taken orally to ensure virility, while in India the fat serves as a cure for rheumatism. In Afghanistan, some mullahs wear the vulva (kus) of a female striped hyena wrapped in silk under their armpits for a week. If a man peers through the vulva at the woman of his desire, he will invariably get hold of her. This has led to the proverbial expression in Dari of kus-e kaftar bay, as well as in Pashto of kus-e kaftar which literally mean "it happens as smoothly as if you would look through the vulva of a female striped hyena". In the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan, the Pakhtun keep the vulva in vermilion powder, itself having aphrodesic connotations. The rectum of a freshly killed striped hyena is likewise used by homosexuals and bisexuals to attract young men. This has led to the expression “to possess the anus of a [striped] hyena” which denotes somebody who is attractive and has many lovers. A striped hyena’s penis kept in a small box filled with vermilion powder can be used for the same reasons.[12]

Tameability[edit]

The striped hyena is easily tamed and can be fully trained, particularly when young. Although the Ancient Egyptians did not consider striped hyenas sacred, they supposedly tamed them for use in hunting. When raised with a firm hand, they may eventually become affectionate and as amenable as well trained dogs,[47][51] though they emit a strong odour which no amount of bathing will cover.[52] Although they kill dogs in the wild, striped hyenas raised in captivity can form bonds with them.[23]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Arumugam, R., Wagner, A. & Mills, G. (2008). Hyaena hyaena. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 22 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of near threatened
  2. ^ Linnæus, Carl (1758). Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I (in Latin) (10 ed.). Holmiæ (Stockholm): Laurentius Salvius. p. 40. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). "Hyaena hyaena". Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  4. ^ a b Kurtén 1968, pp. 66–68
  5. ^ a b c Rosevear 1974, p. 348
  6. ^ a b Heptner & Sludskii 1992, p. 16
  7. ^ a b c Mills & Hofer 1998, p. 22
  8. ^ a b Heptner & Sludskii 1992, p. 46
  9. ^ a b c Heptner & Sludskii 1992, pp. 40–42
  10. ^ a b c Heptner & Sludskii 1992, pp. 36–37
  11. ^ a b c d Pocock 1941, p. 72
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Frembgen, Jürgen W. The Magicality of the Hyena: Beliefs and Practices in West and South Asia, Asian Folklore Studies, Volume 57, 1998: 331–344
  13. ^ a b c Bright, Michael (2006). Beasts of the Field: The Revealing Natural History of Animals in the Bible. pp. 127–129. ISBN 1-86105-831-4. 
  14. ^ a b c Heptner & Sludskii 1992, pp. 11–14
  15. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 1992, p. 8
  16. ^ Pocock 1941, p. 67
  17. ^ a b Mills & Hofer 1998, p. 21
  18. ^ Mammals: Striped Hyena. San DIego Zoo
  19. ^ Boitani, Luigi, Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals. Simon & Schuster/Touchstone Books (1984), ISBN 978-0-671-42805-1
  20. ^ Awad, Simon (February 2008). Myths and Facts about Hyenas. thisweekinpalestine.com #118
  21. ^ Pocock 1941, pp. 62–63
  22. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 1992, p. 38
  23. ^ a b c d e Pocock 1941, p. 73
  24. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 1992, p. 14
  25. ^ Osborn & Helmy 1980, p. 427
  26. ^ a b c d Mills & Hofer 1998, pp. 24–25
  27. ^ Rosevear 1974, p. 350
  28. ^ a b Heptner & Sludskii 1992, pp. 33–36
  29. ^ a b c Heptner & Sludskii 1992, pp. 31–33
  30. ^ a b Rosevear 1974, p. 349
  31. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 1992, p. 39
  32. ^ a b Johnson, Daniel (1827) Sketches of Indian Field Sports: With Observations on the Animals; Also an Account of Some of the Customs of the Inhabitants; with a Description of the Art of Catching Serpents, as Practised by the Conjoors and Their Method of Curing Themselves when Bitten: with Remarks on Hydrophobia and Rabid Animals p. 45-46, R. Jennings, 1827
  33. ^ Macdonald, David (1987) Running with the Fox, p.77-79, Guild Publishing, London, ISBN 0-8160-1886-3
  34. ^ Mills & Hofer 1998, p. 44
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al Mills & Hofer 1998, p. 67
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg Mills & Hofer 1998, pp. 68–71
  37. ^ Striped hyena in Turkey. Iberianature.com. Retrieved on 2013-03-21.
  38. ^ Ö. Emre Can, Yıldıray Lise Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) trapped in Hatay, Turkey. WWF Turkey
  39. ^ Kasparek, Max; Kasparek, Aygün; Gözcelioğlu, Bülent; Çolak, Ercüment; Yiğit, Nuri (2004). "On the status and distribution of the Striped Hyaena,Hyaena hyaena, in Turkey". Zoology in the Middle East 33: 93. doi:10.1080/09397140.2004.10638068. 
  40. ^ Özgün Emre Can (October 2004) Status, Conservation and Management of Large Carnivores in Turkey, WWF-Turkey, p. 11.
  41. ^ a b c d Mounir R. Abi-Said (2006) Reviled as a grave robber: The ecology and conservation of striped hyaenas in the human dominated landscapes of Lebanon Ph.D. thesis, University of Kent (Biodiversity management)
  42. ^ Woodward, Ian (1979). The Werewolf Delusion. p. 256. ISBN 0-448-23170-0. 
  43. ^ The Apocryphon of John. Gnosis.org. Retrieved on 2013-03-21.
  44. ^ a b Mills & Hofer 1998, pp. 23–24
  45. ^ Mills & Hofer 1998, p. 25
  46. ^ Linnel, J.D.C. et al. (January 2002). "The Fear of Wolves: A Review of Wolf Attacks on Humans" (PDF). Norsk Institutt for Naturforskning. ISBN 82-426-1292-7. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  47. ^ a b c Osborn & Helmy 1980, p. 431
  48. ^ a b Kingsley, John Sterling (1884) The Standard Natural History, Vol. V: Mammals, Boston: S. E. Cassino and Co.
  49. ^ Lydekker, Richard (1907), The game animals of India, Burma, Malaya, and Tibet, p. 354, London, R. Ward, limited
  50. ^ a b Heptner & Sludskii 1992, p. 45
  51. ^ Rosevear 1974, pp. 351–352
  52. ^ Smith, A. Mervyn (1904), Sport and adventure in the Indian jungle, p. 292, London : Hurst and Blackett

Bibliography[edit]

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