Three brown hyenas were introduced into Mountain National Park near Cradock early in December last year, becoming the first of their kind to be released in the area. Brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea) historically occurred in the area but were eradicated by hunting activities in the 1800s. The three hyena an adult male, adult female and young female were translocated from Mafunyane Game Reserve in the Northwest Province in November.
The hyenas spent three weeks in a boma at Mountain Zebra National Park to allow them to acclimatise to the local conditions and the predatorproof fencing before their release. All three hyena are collared to allow park rangers to track them via telemetry and satellite technology. This will enable the rangers to monitor the movements of the hyena to check whether they are settling down well in their new home and to determine what habitat they frequent.
The hyena will play an important role in the ecosystems in Mountain Zebra National Park in their role as scavengers that feed on dead material. The park’s cheetah, introduced in 2007, provide ample prey carcasses for scavengers such as hyena. The hyena also feed on insects, fruit and small mammals such as rodents, although predation makes up only about 6 percent of their diet.
A typical brown hyena population lives in small clans of related individuals led by an alpha female. When not at the clan’s den, brown hyena are usually solitary foragers. The brown hyena is listed as a Protected Species on the IUCN Red List.