11 Jul 2020

Striped Hyena – Abha

Whilst in the Abbh area we set up a remote camera trap and placed a large amount of chicken offal in front of the camera in the hope of attracting Hyena and fox. We set the trap in an area where there were lots of animal tracks down a sandy bottomed wadi and were hoipeful of attracting at least Fox. When we returned to the camera trap and downloaded the photos we were very pleased to see we had attracted a Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena. The striped hyena is native to North and East Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. It is a Red Data listed species with a status 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. It is the smallest of the true hyenas and has a smaller and less specialised skull than other species. Though primarily a scavenger, large specimens have been known to kill their own prey on occasions. They are nocturnal and typically only emerge in complete darkness, and is quick to return to its lair before sunrise. The Striped Hyena is solitary and prefers to inhabit rocky and mountainous country where deep caves, burrows, holes, overhanging rocks and dense vegetation form suitable shelters. They are omnivorous and their diet includes mainly small mammals, birds, snakes, insects, vegetables, fruit and carrion. During the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the Twentieth century the Striped Hyena used to be found in good numbers in the mountains, escarpments and inselbergs of central and northern Saudi Arabia. Under immense human pressure, the number of striped Hyenas has decreased sharply and they have become extinct in many of their former habitats and ranges in the Kingdom. They still occur in very small numbers in the mountains of the southwest but are extremely difficult to find and see.

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