In the previous post, I briefly discussed the African Wild Dog. Let me give you a tour on another species of my interest, the Spotted Hyaena. I am not an expert on Spotted Hyaena, but let me share with you a few things I learned during my two years of field experience and involvement with this species. My work involves track sampling large carnivore species in the Okavango region. I simply scan and identify large carnivore tracks on the road and count them. One of the hardships I encounter is identifying tracks and distinguishing between individuals of the same species. It may sound easy but, honestly, it’s a difficult thing to do. Distinguishing Spotted Hyaena tracks is the most problematic, as footprints of individuals may look similar in size and shape. This may lead to double counting and eventually yield biased results. Animals may use the road, leave it and join it again, and one may count the tracks as a different individual. This will lead to over counting.
Efforts to identify individuals include finding hyaena dens and visiting them at night to obtain picture shots. Picture above shows an adult female hyaena with young.
Spotted Hyaena tracks show claws on the ground. The front footprint is always larger than the hind one.
Prints of hyaena walking on the road. I often encounter tracks of one spotted hyaena during spoor surveys.
Pic. Dry Spotted Hyaena droppings. These may be found at a particular spot.
Although spotted hyaena may not be as beautiful and admired as leopards and cheetahs, they are all fall under the same level in the food chain. Just like any other predator, spotted hyaena do suffer from human persecution because of livestock depredation.
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