Striped Hyena — predator is not very large. The dimensions are more like an average dog. The animal is not distinguished by grace, beauty, or attractiveness. Due to the high withers, lowered head and jumping gait, it resembles a cross between a wolf and a wild boar. The striped hyena does not form packs, lives in pairs, brings up to three puppies. The striped hyena is a nocturnal predator. Activity falls on the evening and night. Hyenas sleep during the day.
Origin of the species and description
Hyaena hyaena — ; a mammalian predator of the hyena genus. Belongs to the Hyaenidae family. Varieties differ little from each other. There are minor differences in size, color and coat.
They are mainly divided by habitat:
- Hyaena hyaena hyaena is especially common in India.
- Hyaena hyaena barbara – well represented in the western part of North Africa.
- Hyaena hyaena dubbah – settles in the northern territories of eastern Africa. Distributed in Kenya.
- Hyaena hyaena sultana – common in the Arabian Peninsula.
- Hyaena hyaena syriaca – Found in Israel and Syria, known in Asia Minor, in small quantities in the Caucasus.
Interesting fact: The striped hyena looks like four animals at once: a wolf, a wild pig, a monkey and a tiger. The name of the hyena was given by the ancient Greeks. Noticing the resemblance to a wild pig, they called the predator hus. The flat muzzle of the hyena resembles that of a monkey, the transverse stripes give it a resemblance to a tiger.
People of different nations living on different continents attributed mystical qualities to the hyena because of its unusual appearance. Amulets in the form of a hyena still serve as amulets to many African tribes. The hyena is considered a totemic animal. Revered as a tribal, clan and family protector.
Appearance and Features
The striped hyena, unlike its relatives, does not make sharp coughing cries, does not howl. Can be distinguished from other species by ear. Produces deep bubbling sounds, growls and grumbles. It has a sloping, as if descending body. The front legs of the predator are much longer than the hind legs. A large broad head with a blunt muzzle and large eyes rests on a long neck. The ears are out of proportion to the head. Highlighted by large pointed triangles.
Video: Striped Hyena
Striped hyenas have long, shaggy hair with a gray mane on their long neck and back. The color is yellowish gray with vertical black stripes on the body and horizontal stripes on the legs. In an adult striped hyena, the length from the base of the head to the base of the tail reaches 120 cm, the tail & # 8212; 35 cm. The female can weigh up to 35 kg, the male up to 40 kg.
The hyena has strong teeth and well-developed jaw muscles. This allows the predator to cope with the strong bones of large animals, such as giraffe, rhinoceros, elephant.
Interesting fact: Female hyenas are distinguished by false sexual characteristics. They are very similar to males. For a long time it was believed that the hyena is a hermaphrodite. Another fact in the piggy bank of the mythical predator. In tales and legends, the hyena has the ability to change sex.
Females are larger, although lighter in weight. They are more aggressive and, as a result, more active. Striped hyenas create pairs, and sometimes live in small groups. The female is always the leader. In its natural habitat, the life expectancy of a predator is usually 10-15 years. In nature reserves and zoos, the hyena lives up to 25 years.
Where does the striped hyena live?
The striped hyena is currently the only species that is found even outside of Africa. It can be found in the countries of Central Asia, the Middle East and India. Hyenas live in Morocco, on the north coast of Algeria, in the northern parts of the Sahara.
Interesting fact: Hyenas never settle in areas that are covered with snow for a long time. However, the striped hyena can survive in areas with stable winters of 80 to 120 days, when temperatures drop to minus -20°C.
They are thermophilic animals that prefer hot and arid climates. They manage to survive in dry areas with little water. The striped hyena prefers to live in open semi-arid areas. These are mainly dry savannahs, acacia forests and shrubs, arid steppes and semi-deserts. In mountainous areas, the striped hyena can be seen at an altitude of up to 3300 m above sea level.
In North Africa, the striped hyena prefers open woodlands and mountainous areas with scattered trees.
Interesting fact: Despite their drought tolerance, hyenas never settle deep in desert areas. Animals need constant water. In the presence of water, it has been noted that hyenas constantly approach the springs for watering.
The entrance holes in the lair of the striped hyena have a diameter of 60 cm to 75 cm. The depth is up to 5 m. This is a pit with a small vestibule. There are cases when striped hyenas dug catacombs up to 27 – 30 meters long.
What does a striped hyena eat?
Striped Hyena — scavenger of wild ungulates and livestock. The diet depends on the habitat and the fauna that is represented in it. The diet depends on the remains of prey killed by large carnivores such as the spotted hyena or large felines such as the leopard, lion, cheetah and tiger.
The prey of the striped hyena can be pets. Following herds of domestic animals on pastures, hyenas prowl in search of sick and injured individuals, acting as a nurse. This species is often suspected of killing livestock and hunting large herbivores. There is little evidence for these assumptions. Studies of bone fragments, hairs and feces in central Kenya have shown that striped hyenas also feed on small mammals and birds.
Fun fact: Hyenas are not averse to feasting on turtles. With their powerful jaws, they are able to break open shells. Thanks to strong teeth and well-developed jaw muscles, hyenas are also able to break and grind bones.
The diet is supplemented with vegetables, fruits and invertebrates. Fruits and vegetables can make up a significant portion of their diet. Animals can successfully survive with very little even salt water. Fruits and vegetables such as melons and cucumbers are regularly consumed as a substitute for water.
In search of food, striped hyenas can migrate long distances. In Egypt, small groups of animals were seen accompanying caravans at a respectful distance and developing speeds from 8 to 50 km per hour. Hyenas walked in the hope of prey in the form of fallen pack animals: camels and mules. Hyenas prefer to eat at night. Exception — cloudy weather or a rainy period.
Character and lifestyle features
The lifestyle, habits and habits of the striped hyena differ in habitat areas. In Central Asia, hyenas live monogamously, in pairs. Families have puppies from the previous year. They help care for newborn litters. Family ties are maintained throughout life.
In Central Kenya, hyenas live in small groups. These are harems, where one male has several females. Sometimes females coexist together. These are groups of 3 or more. Sometimes females are not related to each other, they live separately.
In Israel, hyenas live alone. In places where striped hyenas live in groups, the social structure is organized in such a way that males dominate. Hyenas mark their territory with secretions from their anal glands and are demarcated.
The striped hyena is believed to be a nocturnal animal. However, camera traps capture the striped hyena in broad daylight in places inaccessible to human habitation.
Social structure and reproduction
Female striped hyenas go into heat several times a year, making them very prolific. The hyena bears cubs for about three months. Before giving birth, the expectant mother looks for a hole or digs it herself. On average, three puppies are born in a litter, less often one or four. Hyena cubs are born blind, their weight is about 700 grams. After five to nine days, both their eyes and ears open.
At about a month old, puppies are already able to eat and digest solid food. But the female, as a rule, continues to feed them with milk until they are six months to a year old. Sexual maturity in females of the striped hyena occurs after one year, and they can bring their first litter as early as the age of 15-18 months. However, in practice, hyenas give birth for the first time at 24-27 months.
Care for the offspring is carried out exclusively by females. The male hyena doesn't even show up in the lair. Scientists have measured two lairs in the Karakum desert. The width of their entrance holes was 67 cm and 72 cm. At the same time, the burrows went underground to a depth of 3 and 2.5 meters, and their length reached 4.15 and 5 m, respectively. Each lair is a single space without «rooms» and branches.
At the same time, the hyena shelters found in Israel are more complex in structure and much longer – up to 27 m.
Natural enemies of the striped hyena
In the wild, the striped hyena has few enough enemies. It is not a serious opponent for any predator living in the same territory.
This is due to the habits of the hyena and its behavior:
- The hyena lives extremely solitary, not straying into packs ;
- She seeks food mainly at night;
- When meeting large predators, she keeps a distance of at least 50 meters;
- Moves slowly, in zigzags.
This does not mean that the hyena does not have conflicts with other animals at all. There are cases when hyenas had to fight with leopards and cheetahs to drive them away from food. But these are rather one-time incidents that do not make larger predators of other species natural enemies of hyenas.
Unfortunately, this cannot be said about people. Striped hyenas have a bad reputation. They are believed to attack livestock and even raid cemeteries. That is why the population in the habitats of hyenas considers them enemies and tries to destroy them at the first opportunity. In addition, the striped hyena is often poached.
In North Africa, it is commonly believed that the internal organs of the hyena can heal a variety of diseases. For example, hyena liver has long been tried to treat eye diseases. It is also believed that the skin of a striped hyena is able to protect crops from death. All this leads to the fact that the killed hyenas become hot goods on the black market. Hyena poaching is especially developed in Morocco.
Population and species status
There is no exact data on the number of hyenas. This is due to the fact that the striped hyena, unlike the spotted one, is not a pack animal. It is safe to say that despite the very extensive range, the number of striped hyenas in each individual territory is small.
The largest number of places where striped hyenas have been seen is concentrated in the Middle East. Viable populations have survived in the Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Kalahari Desert.
In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources listed the striped hyena as a threatened species. Striped hyenas are also included in the International Red Book. The reason for inclusion is hostile human activity. Centuries-old prejudices against hyenas have made them enemies of the locals in North Africa, India and the Caucasus.
In addition, hyenas also live in zoos around the world, for example, in Moscow, the capital of Egypt, Cairo, the American Fort Worth, Olmen (Belgium) and many other places. The striped hyena also lived in the Tbilisi Zoo, but, unfortunately, the animal died in 2015, when there was a severe flood in Georgia.
Striped hyena protection
The striped hyena is listed as an endangered animal. It was included in the International Red Book in 2008, and in the Red Book of the Russian Federation in 2017.
To maintain the population size, the striped hyena is kept in nature reserves and national parks. Today, this animal can be found in African national parks – for example, in Masai Mara (Kenya) and Kruger (South Africa). Hyenas live in the Badkhyz reserve (Turkmenistan) and in the protected areas of Uzbekistan.
In captivity, the average life expectancy of hyenas is almost doubled thanks to careful care and supervision by veterinarians. In zoos, hyenas breed, but it is usually up to humans to feed the pups. Due to the small size of the shelter, the female hyena constantly drags the cubs and can thus kill them.
In the wild, the main danger to the striped hyena is poaching. It is especially common in Africa. African countries have adopted tough penalties for illegal hunting. Hyena habitats are regularly patrolled by armed brigades of inspectors. In addition, periodically hyenas are caught and, having calmed down with tranquilizers, chips are implanted. With their help, you can track the movements of the animal.
The striped hyena is a carrion predator with very interesting habits and behavior. The negative reputation of the hyena is mainly based on superstition and its unusual appearance. In general, this is a very cautious and peaceful animal, which is a kind of wildlife orderly.