BROWN HYENA SIGHTING AT CAMDEBOO NATIONAL PARK

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Thursday, 18th July 2019

Camera traps have revealed the first photographic evidence of brown hyena (Parahyaena brunnea) in Camdeboo National Park outside Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape.

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The cameras were put up by SnaphotSafari South Africa.  SnapshotSafari is an international camera trap survey in southern and eastern Africa that looks to citizen scientists from around the world to identify wildlife caught on camera.  Not only one, but two cameras have revealed evidence of what is believed to be the same animal.

Brown hyena are solitary and nocturnal, lying during the day in thick bush or in deserted burrows. Brown hyena live in small clans ranging from a breeding pair and their young to groups of several mature males and females. It makes sense, then, that both photographs were recorded after dark in April - 2 April 2019 at 9:11PM and again just over a week later on 10 April 2019 at 2:13AM. 

This is a first for the park.  Although they occur close by in Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock, brown hyena have not been seen in Camdeboo National Park before.

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The photographic evidence has those knowledgeable in the field excited.  Dr Katy Williams of the Brown Hyena Working Group, the University of Mpumalanga and Durham University in England and Dr Andrew Jacobson, who is collating data for range mapping of all Hyaenidae in preparation for a new Red List and Action Plan, are reeling with excitement about the news.

Brown hyena is a near-threatened species.  They are carnivores which have adapted to a scavenging lifestyle – feeding on carcasses of large herbivores killed by other animals.  They will, however, also supplement their diets with insects, birds' eggs, wild fruit and even occasionally kill small animals.

You can read more about the Snapshot Safari project on their Facebook page. They also have a Citizen Science Project where the public can log onto their website to view sightings and assist with identification or just have a look for interest. 

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