Hyaena hyaena


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Hyaena hyaena
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Striped Hyaena
French Hyène Rayée
Spanish Hiena rayada

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Arumugam, R., Wagner, A. & Mills, G.
Reviewer(s): Mills, G. (Hyaena Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Listed as Near Threatened as the global population size is estimated to be below 10,000 mature individuals, and experiences ongoing deliberate and incidental persecution coupled 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 (almost qualifies as threatened under criterion C1).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Striped Hyaena has a very large, albeit now patchy distribution, extending from Africa, north of and including the Sahel, and including much of East and North-east Africa south to about central Tanzania, through the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula, Turkey, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent, though not reaching Assam, Bhutan or Myanmar. They may have recently expanded into Nepal (Hofer and Mills 1998a).

Although historically present, there are no reliable recent records of occurrence in Sudan, Eritrea, or Somalia in Africa, or in Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, or Afghanistan in the Asian range (Hofer and Mills 1998a). Although the latter authors could find no recent records for Syria, there are recent records from the Palmyra area and elsewhere (Masseti 2004; G. Serra pers. comm.). Kasparek et al. (2004) discuss the recent distribution of the species in Turkey.
Algeria; Armenia (Armenia); Azerbaijan; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chad; Djibouti; Egypt; Ethiopia; Georgia; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Kenya; Lebanon; Libya; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Nepal; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan; Western Sahara; Yemen
Possibly extinct:
Kuwait; Qatar; United Arab Emirates
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Hofer and Mills (1998b) estimated the total population of Striped Hyaena at 5,000 to 14,000 individuals (see Table 5.2 in Hofer and Mills 1998b). Such an assessment of the current population trends of the Striped Hyaena is complicated by a number of problems (they are nocturnal, solitary, occur at low densities often in rugged country, sightings are infrequent, and surveys difficult to carry out). Moreover, in areas where the range of the Striped Hyaena overlaps with that of the Spotted Hyaena and the Aardwolf, few people acknowledge or recognize a difference between the three hyaenid species. Nonetheless, even if the overall population is larger than this estimate, based on their questionnaire survey, Hofer and Mills (1998b) found that the Striped Hyaena is already extinct in many localities and that populations are generally declining throughout its range.

As noted, Striped Hyaenas occur at low population densities. A large study in Laikipia District, central Kenya, estimated the minimum regional density at 0.03 adults/km² (Wagner 2006), while van Aarde et al. (1998) more than 0.016/km² in the Negev Desert (see also Table 5.1 in Hofer and Mills 1998b).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In most of its range the Striped Hyaena occurs in open habitat or light thorn bush country in arid to semi-arid environments (Hofer 1998; Wagner in press). It avoids open desert (such as the centre of the Arabian desert and the Sahara, though they may occur at low density in the central Saharan massifs), dense thickets and forests, and also avoids high altitudes; however, it has been recorded to 3,300 m in Pakistan (Roberts 1977), 2,700 m in the Moroccan High Atlas (Cuzin 2003), and at least to 2,300 m in the Ethiopian Highlands (Yalden et al. 1996). Striped Hyaena are sometimes found close to dense human settlements (e.g., Israel and Algeria). Individuals have been recorded 19 km south of Tel Aviv, 5 km east of the international airport and on the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway near Mount Carmel (Hofer 1998; and references therein), and in the suburbs of Algiers (K. de Smet pers. comm. 2007). Striped Hyaenas are unafraid of humans and frequently forage on garbage and carrion near to human habitation (K. de Smet, F. Cuzin and M. Masseti pers. comm.). Young animals are even kept as pets in some areas.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major reasons for the apparent decline include persecution (especially poisoning), decreasing natural and domestic sources of carrion due to declines in the populations of other large carnivores (wolf, cheetah, leopard, lion, tiger) and their prey, and changes in livestock practices (Hofer 1998). Humans are consistently indicated as the major source of mortality throughout the evaluated range, largely because the hyaena is loathed as a grave robber, and because of incidents of damage to agriculture (e.g. in Israel) and livestock (Hofer 1998; Wagner in press). Striped Hyaena are very susceptible to accidental or targeted poisoning as it readily accepts strychnine-poisoned bait. For example, along the Mediterranean coast in Israel, the Striped Hyaena was exterminated by strychnine poisoning during the rabies eradication campaign administered by the British government between 1918 and 1948. The Striped Hyaenas ate poisoned donkey carcasses that were provided to control golden jackals, then the main carrier of rabies. Further large-scale poisoning occurred between 1950 and 1970 (Hofer 1998). In the Palmyra area in Syria, the species is heavily persecuted (including destruction or blockage of dens, poisoning carcasses, or the use of the fire to chase animals out of dens). There is also illegal trade in skins, and body parts for use in traditional medicine (as there is elsewhere in the range), and they are often kept in cages for display purposes (G. Serra pers. comm.). The species is commercially hunted in Morocco for use in traditional medicine, with various parts being used (especially the brain) and may fetch very high prices. Hunters may travel hundreds of kilometres to capture this species (F. Cuzin pers. comm. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Striped Hyaena are present in numerous protected areas across their vast range. Because they exist outside of formally protected areas in regions where pastoralism is the norm and the potential for human-carnivore conflict is very high (for example, in Egypt and Kenya), particular attention should be paid to identifying ways to reduce human-carnivore conflict through promotion of methods that ensure adequate numbers of prey persist and/or methods that reduce livestock killing by carnivores (Wagner in press).

Citation: Arumugam, R., Wagner, A. & Mills, G. 2008. Hyaena hyaena. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 25 May 2015.
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