Striped hyena

Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena)

General overview

The striped hyena covers a very large range extending through the Middle East, Caucus region, Central Asia, and the Indian sub-continent, Striped Hyenawith its southern and western limits in Africa. The populations in West-Africa, Middle East, Caucus and Central Asia are small, fragmented and isolated. The total worldwide population size is estimated between 5,000 to 14,000 individuals, of which only a few thousand live in West – and Central Africa. The striped hyena is considered threatened in all parts of its African range and is assigned the IUCN Global Red List status as Near Threatened. The striped hyena is a medium-sized carnivore with overall appearance reminiscent of a dog, with a body mass between 23 and 41 kg. Primary distincitive characteristics are a back sloping downwards towards the tail and black vertical stripes on the sides. They generally prefer open or bushy habitat with some refuge for resting during the day, although in North Africa they prefer open woodlands and mountainous regions. The striped hyena consumes a wide variety of vertebrates, invertebrates, vegetables, fruit, and human originated organic wastes. They scavenge on carrion and the remains of kills of other predators (spotted hyena, cheetah, leopard, lion). Therefore it is typically considered an omnivorous scavenger. However, hunting small ungulates is common where they are available.

West- and Central  Africa

A distribution map of the striped hyena populations

The striped hyena is absent from the Central Sahara. This carnivore covers a range in West- and Central Africa from Senegal along the extent of the West and North African coast into Egypt and into the Central African states of Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon. Throughout the regions, local populations are small and isolated, and recent population surveys are largely lacking.


  • Poaching
  • Prey and carnivores depletion
  • Habitat fragmentation, degradation and conversion
  • Human-wildlife conflict
  • Superstition and medicine

The major reasons for the decline of striped hyena population numbers are decreasing prey and decreasing natural and domestic sources of carrion due to declines in the populations of other large carnivores and their prey, and changes in livestock practices. Livestock owners often kill striped hyenas because of suspected or real damage inflicted on agricultural produce and livestock.

Striped Hyena

The low densities and associated large home ranges are likely to increase the chances of fragmentation of populations into inviable, small, and isolated units. The striped hyena is widely exploited for aphrodisiacs and utilised for traditional healing. In addition, striped hyena evoke many superstitious fears because of reputed cases of injuries to humans sleeping outside, snatching and killing of children, and grave robbery. The striped hyena has been widely hunted through poisoning, baiting traps, pits, and with domestic dogs.