06 March 2021

Hanging Trees with dead Stripped Hyeana & Arabian Wolf - Al Harajah

Whilst driving from Jizan to Najran, near Al Harajah, in the mountains we saw a Stripped Hyeana and an Arabian Wolf hanging from separate ‘hanging trees’. The use of ‘hanging trees’ to display the bodies of dead predators is widespread in Saudi Arabia and is also known in UAE and Yemen. Road signs and traffic signals are also used for the same purpose; many cases involve Wolf and Striped Hyaena Hyaena hyaena, as we saw but Caracal Caracal caracal, Rüppell’s Fox Vulpes rueppellii, Wildcat Felis silvestris, and Honey Badger Mellivora capensis have also been documented. Stripped Hyeana from southern Arabia are assigned to H. h. sultana and those from the north to H. h. syriaca, but characteristics are not sharply defined and the two forms are thought to intergrade in northern Saudi Arabia. They are widespread especially in the western Mountains where it has been recorded at several places especially south of Taif. In the northwest, it occurs in the Tabuk area, Jebel Al Lawz, Medina, Hesam (west of Tabuk), Jebel Madyen and Jebel Hijaz. It is also known from rocky areas near Riyadh. Declining sharply in all areas. Occurs in a wide range of habitats but apparently avoids extensive areas of loose sand. Needs rocky areas in which to site dens and that are not too far from water. Mainly active at night. They are routinely killed by poisoning, shooting and trapping. Traditional stone traps in the Hajar Mountains are called madhba indicating that their primary purpose may have been to catch Hyaenas. In parts of the region, there is a folk belief that witches ride Hyaenas, increasing their unpopularity. Other threats include loss and fragmentation of habitat due to quarrying for stone, tourist developments and expansion of settlements and roads.The subspecies of Arabian Wolf C. l. arabs occurs in the Arabian Peninsula and C. l. pallipes in Iraq and northern Arabia, with specimens intermediate in size recorded in Kuwait. The possible separation of these two forms has not yet been supported by genetic evidence. C. l. arabs is smaller with a less luxuriant coat. In Saudi Arabia distribution was formerly extensive, with confirmed records from all parts except the Rub al Khali and part of the northeast. Records are widespread except in Rub Al Khali with records from 12 protected areas. Wolves are considered rare in most places, however, in some mountainous areas of Saudi Arabia, local bedu regarded Wolves as numerous.