Brown hyena

The brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea, formerly Parahyaena brunnea), also called strandwolf,[2] is a species of hyena found in Namibia, Botswana, western and southern Zimbabwe,[3] southern Mozambique and South Africa.[4] It is currently the rarest species of hyena.[5] The largest remaining brown hyena population is located in the southern Kalahari Desert and coastal areas in Southwest Africa.[6]

Brown hyena
Temporal range: Pliocene – Recent
Brown Hyena (Parahyaena brunnea) (6472926331)
At the Gemsbok National Park, South Africa
Scientific classification
H. brunnea
Binomial name
Hyaena brunnea
Thunberg, 1820
Brown Hyaena area
Geographic range

Parahyena brunnea


The brown hyena inhabits desert areas, semi-desert, and open woodland savannahs.[7] It can survive close to urban areas by scavenging. The brown hyena favors rocky, mountainous areas, as they provide shade and it is not dependent on the ready availability of water sources for frequent drinking.[6] Home ranges are 233 to 466 km2 (90 to 180 sq mi) in size.[8]


Brown hyenas are distinguished from other species by their long shaggy coat and pointed ears, a dark brown coat and a short tail.[9] Their legs are striped brown and white, and adults have a distinct cream-colored fur ruff around their necks.[10] Erectile hairs up to 305 mm (12.0 in) in length cover the neck and back and bristles during agonistic behavior.[4] Body length is 144 cm (57 in) on average with a range of 130–160 cm (51–63 in).[11] Shoulder height is 70–80 cm (28–31 in) and the tail is 25–35 cm (9.8–13.8 in) long.[1] Unlike the larger spotted hyena, there are no sizable differences between the sexes,[12] although males may be slightly larger than females.[4] An average adult male weighs 40.2–43.7 kg (89–96 lb), while an average female weighs 37.7–40.2 kg (83–89 lb).[4] Brown hyenas have powerful jaws. Young animals can crack the leg bones of springboks within five minutes of birth, though this ability deteriorates with age and dental wear.[5] The skulls of brown hyenas are larger than those of the more northern striped hyena, and their dentition is more robust, indicating a less generalized dietary adaptation.[13]


Five cheetahs were feeding on a Springbok kill one morning in th (34407780271)
Brown hyena stealing springbok kill from cheetahs

Social behavior

Brown hyenas have a social hierarchy comparable to those of wolves, with an alpha male and alpha female. They live in clans composed of extended families of four to six individuals.[9] Clans defend their territory and all members cooperate in raising cubs.[9] Territories are marked by 'pasting',[14] during which the hyena deposits secretions from its large anal gland, which is located below the base of the tail and produces a black and white paste, on vegetation and boulders.[7] Brown hyenas maintain a stable clan hierarchy through ritualized aggressive displays and mock fights. A brown hyena male can move up in rank by killing a higher ranking male in confrontation, while the alpha female is usually just the oldest female in the clan.[9] Emigration is common in brown hyena clans, particularly among young males, which will join other groups upon reaching adulthood.[4]

Reproduction and life cycle

The brown hyena does not have a mating season.[8] Female brown hyenas are polyestrous and typically produce their first litter when they are two years old. They mate primarily from May to August. Males and females in the same clan usually do not mate with each other, rather females will mate with nomadic males.[7] Clan males display no resistance to this behavior, and will assist the females in raising their cubs.[5] Females give birth in dens, which are hidden in remote sand dunes far from the territories of spotted hyenas and lions. The gestation period is around 3 months.[7] Mothers generally produce one litter every 20 months. Usually, only the dominant female breeds, but if two litters are born in the same clan, the mothers will nurse each other's cubs, though favoring their own.[5] Litters usually consist of 1–5 cubs, which weigh 1 kg (2.2 lb) at birth.[4] Unlike spotted hyenas,[5] brown hyenas are born with their eyes closed, and open them after eight days. Cubs are weaned at 12 months and leave their dens after 18 months.[4] Also unlike spotted hyenas, all adult members of the clan will carry food back to the cubs.[5] They are not fully weaned and do not leave the vicinity of their den until they reach 14 months of age.[4] Brown hyenas reach full size at an age of around 30 months[7] and have a life span of about 12 to 15 years.[8]

Dietary habits

Brown hyenas are primarily scavengers the bulk of whose diet consists of carcasses killed by larger predators, but they may supplement their diet with rodents, insects, eggs, fruit and fungi (the desert truffle Kalaharituber pfeilii).[15] They are however poor hunters, and live prey makes up only a small proportion of their diet: in the southern Kalahari, species such as springhare, springbok lambs, bat-eared foxes and korhaans constitute only 4.2% of their overall diet,[16] while on the Namib coast, cape fur seal pups compose 2.9% of their food.[17] They have an exceptional sense of smell and can locate carcasses kilometers away.[7] Brown hyenas are aggressive scavengers, frequently appropriating the kills of black-backed jackals, cheetahs, and leopards.[18] Single brown hyenas may charge at leopards with their jaws held wide open and can tree adult male leopards;[18] they have been observed treeing leopards even when no kill was in contention.[19] In the Kalahari Desert, brown hyenas are often the dominant mammalian carnivores present because of this dominance behavior and the relative scarcity of lions, spotted hyenas, and packs of African wild dogs. In areas where they overlap, brown hyenas may on rare occasions be killed by spotted hyenas and lions.[1]

In the Kalahari, 80% of a brown hyena's activity time is spent at night, searching for food in an area on spanning 31.1 km (19.3 mi) on average, with territories of 54.4 km (33.8 mi) having been recorded.[16] They may cache excess food in shrubs or holes and recover it within 24 hours.[4]

Threats and conservation status

The global population of brown hyena is estimated at less than 10,000 individuals.[6] They are listed as near threatened in the IUCN Red List.[1] The major threat to brown Hyenas is human persecution based on the mistaken belief that they are harmful to livestock. Farmers will find hyenas scavenging on livestock carcasses and wrongly assume that hyenas have killed their property.[16] Brown hyena body parts are also occasionally used for traditional medicines and rituals, but the species is not as sought after as the spotted hyena. The brown hyena is not in high demand for trophy hunting.[6] The only major predator of hyenas is the African lion. Hyena cubs are especially susceptible to lion predation.[11]

There are several conservation areas that are home to the brown hyena, including the Etosha National Park in Namibia, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (South Africa/Botswana).[6] The maintenance of these protected areas aids in the conservation of these animals. Educational campaigns are being utilized to promote awareness about hyenas and dispel prevailing myths, while problem individuals are removed from farmlands and urbanized areas.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Wiesel, I.; Maude, G.; Scott, D. & Mills, G. (2008). "Hyaena brunnea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  2. ^ Shorter Oxford English dictionary. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 2007. p. 3804. ISBN 978-0199206872.
  3. ^ Williams, Samual T.; Williams, Kathryn S.; Joubert, Christoffel J.; Hill, Russell A. (14 January 2016). "The impact of land reform on the status of large carnivores in Zimbabwe". PeerJ. 4: e1537. doi:10.7717/peerj.1537. PMC 4728035. PMID 26819838. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Nowak, Ronald (2005). Walker's carnivores of the world. JHU Press.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Chapter 4: Rich Man's Table from David MacDonald’s The Velvet Claw BBC books, 1992
  6. ^ a b c d e f Holekamp, Kay. "Home". IUCN Hyaena Specialist Group. IUCN. Archived from the original on 2007-12-24.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Mills, G; Hes, L (1997). The Complete Book of Southern African Mammals. Cape Town: Struik Publishers.
  8. ^ a b c Bhattacharya, Deepamala. "Brown Hyena". Animal Spot.
  9. ^ a b c d Stuart, C; Stuart, T (1997). Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa. London: Struik Publishers.
  10. ^ Kingdom, J (1997). The Kingdom Field. London: Academic Press Limited.
  11. ^ a b Schmidtke, Mike. "Hyaena brunnea brown hyena". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan.
  12. ^ Estes, Richard (1991). The behavior guide to African mammals:including hoofed mammals, carnivores, primates. University of California Press.
  13. ^ Heptner, V.G.; Sludskii, A.A. (1989). Mammals of the Soviet Union Volume II Part 2. ISBN 978-9004088764.
  14. ^ Mills, M. G. L., M. L. Gorman, and Margaret EJ Mills. "The scent marking behaviour of the brown hyaena Hyaena brunnea." South African Journal of Zoology 15.4 (1980): 240-248.
  15. ^ Trappe, JM; Claridge, AW; Arora, D; Smit, WA (2008). "Desert truffles of Kalahari:ecology, ethnomycology and taxonomy". Economic Botany. 3 (62): 521–529. doi:10.1007/s12231-008-9027-6.
  16. ^ a b c Mills, M.G.L (1990). Kalahari hyaenas: the comparative behavioral ecology of two species. London: Unwim Hyman.
  17. ^ Goss, R.A. (1986). The influence of food source on the behavioral ecology of brown hyaenas Hyaena brunnea in the Namib Desert. Pretoria: University of Pretoria.
  18. ^ a b Owens, Mark; Owens, Delia (1984). Cry of the Kalahari. pp. 133–135.
  19. ^ Owens, Delia; Owens, Mark (1980). "Hyenas of the Kalahari". Natural History. 2 (89): 50.

External links

Bite force quotient

Bite force quotient (BFQ) is the regression of the quotient of an animal's bite force in newtons divided by its body mass in kilograms.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Central Kalahari Game Reserve is an extensive national park in the Kalahari desert of Botswana. Established in 1961 it covers an area of 52,800 square kilometres (20,400 sq mi) (larger than the Netherlands, and almost 10% of Botswana's total land area), making it the second largest game reserve in the world.The park contains wildlife such as South African giraffe, bush elephant, white rhino, cape buffalo, spotted hyena, brown hyena, honey badger, meerkat, yellow mongoose, warthog, South African cheetah, caracal, Cape wild dog, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, cape fox, African leopard, lion, blue wildebeest, plains zebra, common eland, sable antelope, gemsbok, springbok, steenbok, impala, greater kudu, aardvark, cape ground squirrel, cape hare, cape porcupine, chacma baboon, red hartebeest and ostrich.

The land is mostly flat, and gently undulating covered with bush and grasses covering the sand dunes, and areas of larger trees. Many of the river valleys are fossilized with salt pans. Four fossilized rivers meander through the reserve including Deception Valley which began to form around 16,000 years ago.The Bushmen, or San, have inhabited the lands for thousands of years since they roamed the area as nomadic hunters. However, since the mid-1990s the Botswana government has tried to relocate the Bushmen from the reserve, claiming they were a drain on financial resources despite revenues from tourism. In 1997, three quarters of the entire San population were relocated from the reserve, and in October 2005 the government had resumed the forced relocation into resettlement camps outside of the park leaving only about 250 permanent occupiers. In 2006 a Botswana court proclaimed the eviction illegal and affirmed the Bushmen's right to return to living in the reserve. However, as of 2015 most Bushmen are blocked from access to their traditional lands in the reserve. A nationwide ban on hunting made it illegal for the Bushmen to practice their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle, despite allowing private game ranches to provide hunting opportunities for tourists.In 2014 a diamond mine operated by Gem Diamonds opened in the southeast portion of the reserve. The company estimated that the mine could yield $4.9 billion worth of diamonds. The Rapaport Diamond Report, a diamond-industry pricing guide, stated, "Ghaghoo's launch was not without controversy [...] given its location on the ancestral land of the Bushmen".A huge bush fire in and around the park in the middle of September 2008 burnt around 80 percent of the reserve. The origin of the fire remains unknown.

D'nyala Nature Reserve

D'nyala Nature Reserve, lies just 15 kilometres south east of Lephalale, in the Limpopo, province of South Africa, and is about 8.000 Ha in area. It is named after the huge and lovely Nyala tree (Latin: Xanthocercis zambesiaca) that grows in the area up to 30 metres high with massive gnarled and crooked trunks from which its leaves grow directly. On the west is the Mogol River and on the east the Tamboti River.


Hoedjiespunt is a Middle Pleistocene aged hominid fossil-bearing site on the West coast of South Africa, near the town of Saldanha Bay. The site is an ancient brown hyena lair dug into the side of a sand dune, located on a peninsula overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The site became fossilized under a large calcrete formation around 280,000 years ago, at which time it was likely several kilometers from the ocean.


Hyaena is a genus comprising two of the living species of hyenas: the striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) from western Asia and northern Africa and the brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea) from southern Africa. The brown hyena has sometimes been placed in a separate genus Parahyaena, or even included in the otherwise fossil genus Pachycrocuta, but recent sources have tended to place it in Hyaena.

The brown hyena's skull is larger than that of the striped hyena. The male brown hyena is slightly larger than the female, while the sexes of the striped hyena are equally sized. Both species are smaller than the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), but larger than the aardwolf (Proteles cristata). They are predominantly scavengers.


Hyenas or hyaenas (from Greek ὕαινα hýaina) are any feliform carnivoran mammals of the family Hyaenidae . With only four extant species (in three genera), it is the fifth-smallest biological family in the Carnivora, and one of the smallest in the class Mammalia. Despite their low diversity, hyenas are unique and vital components of most African ecosystems.Although phylogenetically they are closer to felines and viverrids, and belong to the feliform category, hyenas are behaviourally and morphologically similar to canines in several elements of convergent evolution; both hyenas and canines are non-arboreal, cursorial hunters that catch prey with their teeth rather than claws. Both eat food quickly and may store it, and their calloused feet with large, blunt, nonretractable claws are adapted for running and making sharp turns. However, the hyenas' grooming, scent marking, defecating habits, mating and parental behaviour are consistent with the behaviour of other feliforms.Spotted hyenas may kill as many as 95% of the animals they eat, while striped hyenas are largely scavengers. Generally, hyenas are known to drive off larger predators, like lions, from their kills, despite having a reputation in popular culture for being cowardly. Hyenas are primarily nocturnal animals, but sometimes venture from their lairs in the early-morning hours. With the exception of the highly social spotted hyena, hyenas are generally not gregarious animals, though they may live in family groups and congregate at kills.Hyenas first arose in Eurasia during the Miocene period from viverrid-like ancestors, and diversified into two distinct types: lightly built dog-like hyenas and robust bone-crushing hyenas. Although the dog-like hyenas thrived 15 million years ago (with one taxon having colonised North America), they became extinct after a change in climate along with the arrival of canids into Eurasia. Of the dog-like hyena lineage, only the insectivorous aardwolf survived, while the bone-crushing hyenas (including the extant spotted, brown and striped hyenas) became the undisputed top scavengers of Eurasia and Africa.Hyenas feature prominently in the folklore and mythology of human cultures that live alongside them. Hyenas are commonly viewed as frightening and worthy of contempt. In some cultures, hyenas are thought to influence people’s spirits, rob graves, and steal livestock and children. Other cultures associate them with witchcraft, using their body parts in traditional African medicine.


Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.

Tourism in Botswana

Botswana's principal tourist attractions are its game reserves, with hunting and photographic safaris available. Other attractions include the Okavango Delta region, which during the rainy season is a maze of waterways, islands, and lakes. The tourism industry also helped to diversify Botswana's economy from traditional sources such as diamonds and beef and created 23,000 jobs in 2005.

Verloren Valei Nature Reserve

Verloren Valei Nature Reserve (Lost Valley in English) is a protected area in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

One of the few places in the country to breed the three species cranes present in South Africa, the Verloren Vallei Nature Reserve lies roughly 13 km (8.1 mi) outside Dullstroom, a beautiful, peaceful part of the Steenkampsberg plateau that includes rolling grasslands and sensitive wetlands.

Guided tours around the reserve to sight the blue crane, the wattled crane and the Grey crowned crane are by appointment only - the reserve is an international Ramsar wetlands site and enjoys international importance. An interlinked series of over 30 wetlands are home to significant birds, including red data species, so it is understandable that Verloren Vallei Nature Reserve is serious about providing safe refuge to its countless birds. An ongoing project to save the wattle crane from extinction collects the second eggs produced by these birds for incubation. These chicks are then reared in isolation in a specially designed facility on the reserve, looked after by people in crane suits so that they do not imprint on humans. Once they are 6 months old, they are released into the wild in an attempt to boost their dwindling numbers.

Open grasslands are home to the bald ibis, pitpits, larks, cisticolas, long-tailed shrikes, red bishops and finches, whilst the rockier parts of the reserve attract the mountain chat, ground woodpecker, the scarce grey-winged and red-winged francolin and the Cape rock thrush. Verloren Vallei also includes animals such as the oribi, steenbok, brown hyena, caracal, serval cat, jackal, otters and zebras, wildebeest and blesbok have been reintroduced. Plants include the threatened Eucomis vandermerwei, protected within the reserve. But the stars of the show at Verloren Vallei Nature Reserve are the butterflies - attracted to the array of indigenous flowers - the sweet water and, of course, the cranes.

Welgevonden Game Reserve

Welgevonden Game Reserve, (Dutch for well found), is in the Waterberg District, of the Limpopo, province of South Africa. Welgevonden Game Reserve, (Dutch for "well found"), is a 38,200ha game reserve in the Waterberg District, of the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

It forms part of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve which was officially declared by UNESCO in 2001 and currently covers an area in excess of 654,033 hectare.

The reserve comprises mountainous terrain that is dissected by deep valleys and kloofs while flat plateaus characterise most hilltops. Altitude varies from 1080 m in the north to ±1800 m in the southern section of the reserve.

Welgevonden is home to over 50 different mammals, including the Big Five.

The diversity of habitat leads to a wide range of wildlife with grassy plains abounding with antelope from the largest eland to the diminutive duiker; and cheetah, lion and leopard are regularly seen close by. There are also numerous rare and unusual species such as brown hyena, aardwolf, pangolin and aardvark – all best seen at night. Over 300 bird species can be seen on the reserve, including rare blue cranes which breed in the southern section early in the year.

Wildlife of Botswana

The wildlife of Botswana refers to the flora and fauna of Botswana. Botswana is around 90% covered in savanna, varying from shrub savanna in the southwest in the dry areas to tree savanna consisting of trees and grass in the wetter areas. Even under the hot conditions of the Kalahari Desert, many different species survive; in fact the country has more than 2500 species of plants and 650 species of trees. Vegetation and its wild fruits are also extremely important to rural populations living in the desert and are the principal source of food, fuel and medicine for many inhabitants.Three national parks and seven game reserves that are wildlife shelters occupy 17% of the land area of Botswana. The three national parks are the Chobe National Park, the Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The seven game reserves are the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Gaborone Game Reserve, Khutse Game Reserve, Mannyelanong Game Reserve, Maun Game Reserve and Moremi Game Reserve. In addition, a number of small privately owned reserves are maintained.

Wolfgat Nature Reserve

Wolfgat Nature Reserve is a coastal nature reserve on False Bay in Cape Town, South Africa.This conservation area consists of 248 ha (610 acres) of endangered dune vegetation and majestic limestone cliffs, extending along a portion of the False Bay coastline. The Cape Flats Dune Strandveld vegetation in this reserve contains over 150 plant species. These include evergreen shrubs, flowering succulents, arum lilies and a variety of daisy species. Birds such as kelp gulls and black oystercatchers nest here.A major threat to the reserve is the invasive alien Acacia cyclops (“rooikrans”) tree. This weed has spread across large parts of the coastline, smothering and killing local vegetation and upsetting coastal ecosystems. Wolfgat Nature Reserve is managed by the city of Cape Town, in partnership with the local communities of Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plein.

The name Wolfgat means "wolf cave", and refers to the brown hyena or strandwolf which existed here until the 19th century. An ancient fossilised den of this species was discovered here in the 1960s and the stretch of coast was named after this discovery.


Wolvengat, also known as Viljoenshof, is a village in the southern Overberg region, in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It is situated 10 kilometres (6 mi) south of Elim and 35 kilometres (22 mi) southwest of Bredasdorp. It was originally named Wolfgat or Wolvengat in reference to the brown hyena, known as strandwolf in Afrikaans. However, when the local post office was established the authorities named it Viljoenshof in honour of DJ Viljoen, the Dutch Reformed (NGK) minister of Bredasdorp from 1904 to 1934; this name was then extended to the village. The original name Wolvengat was officially restored in 1991.In the early 1900s the village had a school with 100 children, but by the early 21st century there was neither a church nor a school. The fertile soil, and the potential of using land for vineyards, explains the high property prices.


Zig may refer to:

Ziz or Zig, a giant griffin-like bird in Jewish mythology

Zığ, Baku, Azerbaijan

Zig, Iran, a village in Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran

Zig, Missouri, a ghost town in the United States

Zoster-immune globulin

Extant Carnivora species

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