Idea #658 – Observing Spotted Hyenas in Senegal
The spotted hyena, Crocuta crocuta, is the largest hyena. It lives mainly in the African savannah. The spotted hyena is recognizable by its short, rounded ears and relatively long fore legs. Its coat, sand colored with black spots, differentiates it from other hyenas and is the origin of its name. The weight of a spotted hyena varies between 40 and 80 kg and its length can reach 1.60 m. Females are larger and heavier than males. They are also more aggressive. The female dominates the group, which varies from 5 to 50 depending on the territory and its resources. The spotted hyena utters a wide variety of cries and grunts to rally the group or locate the young. When very excited, the spotted hyena utters a cry that looks like a sneer. The spotted hyenas are formidable hunters but also scavengers and opportunists. When they hunt together, they attack large prey such as buffaloes, zebras, warthogs and various antelopes; elands, wildebeests, hartebeests, impala and waterbuck. The spotted hyena can consume up to 14 kg of food in one meal, however it is content with about 1.5 to 2 kg of meat a day. Her jaw is one of the most powerful of the carnivorous mammal kingdom and allows her to break the bones of the animals she devours. With its long legs and relatively thin body, hyenas are fast and enduring. They can maintain a speed of 40 km/h for about fifteen minutes and reach a top speed of 60 km/h for a short distance. The species is classified as a minor concern by IUCN, yet hyenas have experienced a dramatic decline in numbers and range in Africa throughout the 20th century, reaching about 10,000 individuals.
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