2,801Grants to


Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena syriaca)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 0925681

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 0925681) - Striped hyena - Awarded $20,000 on November 10, 2009

The first phase of this project has now been completed and a report made to the MBZ Species Conservation Fund.

Images of sympatric species captured on camera-trap at the field site are available at:


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This project is proposed by WildTrack (www.wildtrack.org), an independent wildlife monitoring organisation established in 2004 by Sky Alibhai and Zoe Jewell, a zoologist and veterinarian. WildTrack is currently based in Portugal. Our academic partner in this project is Ä°smet Ceyhun Yıldırım, a forest engineer, based in Sütçü Ä°mam University, KahramanmaraÅŸ, Turkey. He is currently working as a research assistant and doing his masters in Wildlife Ecology and Management under supervision of Prof. Dr. Selçuk Ä°naç, at Faculty of Forestry. Our mission is to adapt our award-winning footprint identification technique (FIT) to monitor and protect the highly endangered striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena syriaca) in Southeastern Turkey. The Arab word for striped hyenas, dhubba, is alluded in a valley in Palestine known as Shaqq-ud-Diba (meaning "cleft of the hyenas") and Wadi-Abu-Diba (meaning "valley of the hyenas") and the species has an important place in middle-eastern cultural history, where it is still found today. However the species is widely persecuted, and in Europe it’s situation is critical; the last remaining individuals of this species in Europe are found in Turkey where it is extinct or nearly extinct (KASPAREK et. al., 2004). CAN & LISE (2004a) regard the Striped Hyaena as critically endangered in Turkey. There are no comprehensive population monitoring studies. It is vital that we are able to assess the status and distribution of this highly endangered and charismatic carnivore in it’s last European range. However, this is extremely difficult. Hyenas are nocturnal and often live at low densities, therefore ground and air transect methods, usually used on large herbivores, are not always appropriate (MILLS and HOFER 1998). All invasive approaches to monitoring (eg collaring, marking, close physical disturbance etc) involve some degree of disturbance to the ecology and behaviour of the endangered species. Evidence of deleterious effects ranging from decreased fertility to reduced body-weight and ranging behaviour has increased considerably in the last decade (see www.wildtrack.org). Another problem with invasive techniques is their lack of sustainability; they are expensive, and therefore only a small proportion of the population can be monitored, and/or for a short time. FIT is a new tool for monitoring endangered and iconic species, based on ancient tracking techniques (Alibhai & Jewell, 2008). Using multivariate statistical analyses of digital images of footprints, it represents a new approach to wildlife conservation. FIT is completely non-invasive, cost-effective and sustainable. It also engages expert tracking skills within local communities, and has been widely applied from rhinoceros in Africa to Polar bear in the Arctic. A feasibility study undertaken last year at the field site suggested that good quality footprints can be obtained from tracks and caves occupied by hyena, and the complexity of the footprint is suitable for FIT, and similar to the anatomical structure of other species for which FIT algorithms have already been developed. With this joint project, WildTrack and Sütçü Ä°mam University Faculty of Forestry hope to develop a new, effective and sustainable approach to monitoring endangered carnivores in Turkey. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- References: Alibhai, S.K., Jewell, Z.C. & Law P.R. (2008). Identifying white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) by a footprint identification technique, at the individual and species levels. Endangered Species Research 4: 219-225 Can, Ö. E. & Y Lise. 2004. Distribution of large mammals in Southeastern Anatolia: Recommendations & priority areas for their conservation (in GAP Biodiversity Research Project 2001-2003 Final Report), Turkish Society for the Conservation of Nature (DHKD), Istanbul, Turkey. Kasparek, M., Kasparek, A., GözcelioÄŸlu, B., Çolak E., & YiÄŸ N. (2004) On the status and distribution of the Striped Hyaena, Hyaena hyaena, in Turkey. Zoology in the Middle East 33, 2004: 93–108. ISSN 0939-7140 © Kasparek Verlag, Heidelberg Mills, G. and H. Hofer. 1998. (Compiled by). Hyaenas: Status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Hyaena Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.

Project 0925681 location - Turkey, Asia