Research: Conservation of the African large carnivore guild: experimental investigation of interspecific competition involving spotted hyaenas
Species/Topic: Spotted hyaenas and other African large carnivores
The spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) is the most abundant member of the African large predator ‘guild’, a group of carnivore species that interact through competition for resources and direct predation, and includes several species of major conservation concern. Hyaenas are highly intelligent, opportunistic predators that exhibit behavioural flexibility across ecosystems. For ecosystems in which hyaena behavior is relatively unknown, such as the Okavango Delta, it is essential to investigate their role within an intact guild system. This study will examine how hyaenas respond to environmental cues of other predator species. Additionally, this study will systematically quantify how a variety of factors (i.e. prey, habitat, competing species, hyaena sociality) influence whether hyaenas initiate or avoid encounters with competitors. Through integration with long-term work undertaken by the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, the proposed study will contribute to the development of effective strategies for the conservation and management of large carnivores in Botswana.