Crocuta crocuta


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Crocuta crocuta
Species Authority: (Erxleben, 1777)
Common Name(s):
English Spotted Hyaena

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Honer, O., Holekamp, K.E. & Mills, G.
Reviewer(s): Mills, G. (Hyaena Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Listed as Least Concern as the species remains widespread in Africa, and the total world population well exceeds 10,000 mature individuals. There is a continuing decline in populations outside protected areas (and even within some protected areas) due to persecution and habitat loss, although this is not sufficient to warrant listing in a threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Spotted Hyaena are relatively widely distributed in Africa, south of the Sahara. Their distribution is patchy, especially in West Africa, with populations often concentrated in protected areas. More continuous distributions persist over large areas of Chad, Central African Republic, southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Angola, Namibia, and parts of South Africa. Hofer and Mills (1998a) reported the species as extinct in Algeria, where they may have occurred in the Ahaggar and Tassili d’Ajjer, and also report no recent records from Djibouti, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, and Togo; however, Künzel et al. (2000) report that Spotted Hyaena are still widespread in Djibouti, and Grubb et al. (1998) note the same for Gambia. Recently, Henschel and Ray (2003) reported images of a single Spotted Hyaena inside the Ivindo National Park in Gabon, where the species has not been recorded since eradication around 1950.

There is no confirmed evidence of their occurrence in Egypt, Liberia or Lesotho.
Angola (Angola); Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Djibouti; Equatorial Guinea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Possibly extinct:
Algeria; Eritrea; Togo
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Viable populations still exist in a number of countries and a tentative estimate of the total global population is between 27,000 and 47,000. The largest known populations occur in the Serengeti ecosystem (in the Tanzanian sector, 7,200-7,700; in the Kenyan sector, 500-1,000) and the Kruger N.P., South Africa (1,300-3,900). Population densities based on systematic censuses vary substantially, from 0.006 to 1.7 individuals per km² (Hofer and Mills 1998b; and see references therein). Most populations in protected areas in southern Africa are considered to be stable, whereas many populations in eastern and western Africa, even in protected areas, are considered to be declining, mostly due to incidental snaring and poisoning (Hofer and Mills 1998b).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Spotted Hyaenas are present in all habitats including semi-desert, savanna and open woodland, dense dry woodland, and even montane habitats, such as in the Aberdares, Mt Kenya, and the Ethiopian Highlands, up to 4,100 m altitude (Hofer and East in press; and references therein). It is absent from, or present at very low densities in, extreme desert conditions, tropical rainforests, although they may make deep incursions into forested areas where logging roads provide access (Hofer and East in press). In many parts of their range, they occur in close association with human habitations. Often considered scavengers, Spotted Hyaenas are in fact effective and flexible hunters (Hofer and East in press); damage to domestic stock mainly involves cattle, sheep and goats and varies widely in intensity (Hofer 1998). The ecology of the species is reviewed by Hofer and East (in press).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Outside protected areas, populations are subject to human persecution through shooting, trapping and poisoning. Such activities may sometimes occur within the boundaries of conservation areas: mortality due to wire snares set to catch wild herbivores for meat is an important cause of adult mortality in the Serengeti, where snares kill around 400 adult hyaenas each year and are responsible for more than half of all adult mortality (Hofer et al. 1996). Apparently only since the mid-1970s has game meat hunting rapidly expanded, as more people have moved within walking distance of the boundaries of protected areas north and west of the Serengeti (Hofer 1998). The numbers killed by sport hunters are small as they are not considered an attractive species. It is also killed for food or medicine (Hofer and Mills 1998b). A further threat is posed by the decline in densities of wildlife species consumed by Spotted Hyaenas due to habitat loss caused by increased human settlement and overgrazing by livestock.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Legal classification varies from “vermin” (Ethiopia) to fully protected in conservation areas. Thus, while it is fully protected in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, the Spotted Hyaena may be legally shot by sport hunters in the adjacent Maswa Game Reserve. Spotted Hyaeans enjoy protection in a number of protected areas across their range, particularly in southern Africa, including Kruger National Park (South Africa), Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (South Africa and Botswana), and Etosha National Park (Namibia).

Citation: Honer, O., Holekamp, K.E. & Mills, G. 2008. Crocuta crocuta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 30 May 2015.
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