Our new spotted hyaena paper – Dyads and Networks

If you ask me, the spotted hyaena is one of the most interesting and exciting species to study. One of the reasons for that is that even though they live in large groups, all clan members are rarely, if ever, seen together. This makes estimating density and clan size quite tricky. Additionally, hyaenas forage alone or in sub-groups with a very dynamic composition. The ORC team therefore used camera traps deployed at waterholes in the reserve to identify individual hyaenas based on their pelage markings and determine associations patterns between clan members. We found that a single clan composed of about 30 adults was living on Ongava, corresponding to a density of 8.1 hyaenas / 100 km2, which is much higher than in the neighboring Etosha. What more? The Ongava hyaenas’ social network was quite dense (see image) with individuals seen associated with almost every other clan member over the course of the study. This study has just been accepted for publication in the African Journal of Ecology.