Spotted hyaena population density: new insight from Tanzania

October 25, 2023

Spotted hyaenas are often thought to be resilient to human disturbance, but many of their populations are now in decline. Population density estimates are invaluable for conservation planning, yet very few have been produced to date. A new study led by WildCRU’s Charlotte Searle, using camera trap data from Tanzania’s Ruaha-Rungwa landscape, helps fill this gap.

The authors collaborated with a group of students to process camera trap data that was initially collected to estimate lion and leopard population density and used spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) modelling to obtain density estimates for spotted hyaenas. They also examined the relationship between population densities of spotted hyaenas, lions and leopards at each study site.

Their findings suggest that spotted hyaena density is influenced by prey availability and protection, and that the species is less resilient to human pressures than widely thought. They also give important insight into the relationships between spotted hyaenas, lions and leopards and the impact of human activities on their populations. More specifically, this work forms an important baseline for monitoring, and provides some of the first insights into spotted hyaena population ecology in miombo woodland – an important component of the species’ range.

Many thanks to TAWIRI, TANAPA, TAWA, MBOMIPA WMA, STEP and Lion Landscapes for supporting this work.

Searle, C.E., Strampelli, P., Smit, J.B., Mkuburo, L., Mathews, F., Kiwango, H., Macdonald, D.W., Loveridge, A.J. and Dickman, A.J. (2023), Spotted hyaena population density across habitat and land use types in southern Tanzania. J Zool.

  • Photos by Egil Dröge