In the collective imagination (especially thanks to the film The Lion King), the hyena is often geographically assimilated to Africa. Its close cousin, the striped hyena, is however as present in the Middle East as in Africa. Portrait of an atypical animal.
The difference between “spotted hyenas” & “striped hyenas”
“Spotted” hyenas tend to get all the spotlight, but there are three other members of the hyena family, including the smallest and least studied striped hyena.
The striped hyena has a dog-like appearance, with a long black snout and large pointed ears that give it excellent hearing. Her golden or brownish gray fur is edged with black stripes that camouflage her in tall grass, and a bushy mane that extends from neck to tail – like a mohawk all over her body – which makes her look more intimidating.
The four different species of hyenas
1: Spotted (laughing hyena)
2: werewolf hyena
4. Stripped Hyena pic.twitter.com/rceWWKOG8E
— 🍁RASTA MAN™🍁 (@ItsJeffreyJeff) January 19, 2022
While the spotted hyena is one of Africa’s top predators, the striped hyena is primarily a scavenger that feeds on the carcasses of large animals. It has exceptionally strong jaws to gnaw through bones, horns, and hooves, as well as a digestive system capable of killing bacteria in carrion. By feeding on the dead, striped hyenas perform an important service by cleaning up the landscape.
Striped hyenas are found throughout the Middle East but threatened with extinction
Although the species of hyenas in general has a vast area of distribution, including sub-Saharan Africa, India and Turkey, it is also possible to cross them within the Arabian peninsula, especially in rocky areas and the forests of the peninsula.
— Shweta Bhamare (@bhamare_shweta) September 21, 2022
However, it is very unlikely that you will come across them while wandering around the peninsula since their total number is revealed to a population of 10,000 individuals in the wild on the whole globe. Victims of poaching for their fur, they have been placed as a “near threatened” species on the IUCN list. Indeed, with dwindling prey, the species is estimated to be on the verge of a continuing decline of 10% over the next three generations.