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last update: September 14, 2003

Hyaena research: Ecological interactions between brown hyaenas (Parahyaena brunnea) and humans in the Makgadikgadi region of Botswana
by Glyn Maude

Supervisors: Gus Mills and Johan du Toit, MRI, Pretoria University

 Brown hyaena pulling a zebra (left), Glyn Maude tries to get in contact with the GPS-collar of “Paucinover”

This research study aims to investigate the feeding behaviour and movement of brown hyaena (Parahyaena brunnea) populations living in close proximity to cattle post communities in the Makgadikgadi region of Northern Botswana. Particular emphasis will be placed on studying the ecological interactions between brown hyaenas and humans living in the area. The level of conflict between the two species will be quantified and ideas for conflict resolution proposed. Data on brown hyaena diet and movement in relation to food provided by human activities will be collected and analysed. The brown hyaenas reliance on food obtained from village areas in the form of domestic livestock will be determined. All data collected will be used to reduce the level of conflict present between brown hyaena and humans by a process of information provision and education.





Fig. 1:
Location of the investigation area in Botswana (red symbol)




The study will also produce a reliable estimate of the number of brown hyaenas in the area.  No studies have been conducted on brown hyaenas in the Makgadikgadi as yet and nothing is known of their existence, behaviour or ecology. Due to the uniqueness of the Makgadikgadi region, existing literature on brown hyaena ecology and behaviour in other areas cannot be translated to the Makgadikgadi. Brown hyaenas are presently classed as near endangered and vulnerable, with a minimum approximate population of between 5-8000 individuals. For the above reasons this study is highly conservation based. The larger aims of the study will be to promote the conservation of brown hyaenas in the Makgadikgadi and in other areas of Southern Africa where conflict exists between brown hyaena and human populations.

Capture of browns:
To date eleven brown hyaenas have been caught for purposes of collaring or identification. Six have been caught in baited cage traps and five in modified gin traps. At present there are six brown hyaenas with collars on. Five VHF collars and two GPS collar on a 5-6 year old male (“Paucinover”) and a sub-adult male (“Tsodilo”). Paucinover was  caught deep into the Makgadikgadi National Park, an area that for most of the wet season is inaccessible.


Fig. 2: Two brown hyaenas in close contact (left), male brown hyaena “Paucinover” fitted with a GPS-collar


Preliminary data of Paucinover and Tsodilo:
Paucinovers and Tsodilos positions are shown in figure 3. Paucinovers home range, evaluated by MCP at the 95% level is 610 km2 (one fix a night is randomly extracted from the GPS data). This is the area the hyaena used within 37 days during the dry season

Fig. 3:  Localization points of Paucinover and Tsodilo. Tracking period: 37 days and 33 days

In Figure 4 the GPS positions of M4, a male brown hyaena are overlayed with Landsat imagines. The yellow colored symbols represents different vegetation structures. 1732 positions are downloaded from the collar via remote UHF-link at several field trips. The communication range for Handheld Terminal and the collar was in the mean 2,5 km on ground and about 30-40 km from plane.

Fig. 4: Positions of M4 a male brown hyaena connected in chronological order (n= 1732 positions over 133 days)


A typical impression from daily fieldwork is presented in figure 5. Glyn and the veterinarian Bom try to change the VHF collar from Tsodilo to GPS collar.




For more information please contact:

Glyn Maude
Makgadikgadi Brown Hyaena Research


         Phonel:  ++27 11 7013914
         Mobile:  ++27  (0)722511491









IUCN, Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan: Hyaena: Executive Summary