We surveyed density and abundance of spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) in the highly degraded and prey depleted Wukro district, northern Ethiopia, with a human population density of 98 persons per square kilometer. A total of 117 spotted hyenas responded to callups, giving a hyena density of 52 hyenas per 100 km2 or a total population of 535 hyenas in the district. We quantified the economic impact of spotted hyena predation on livestock using semi structured interviews with randomly selected households. Respondents indicated a total loss of 203 domestic animals to hyena depredation over the past five years. Average annual depredation per household was 0.13 livestock worth US$ 6.1. The diet of spotted hyenas was assessed in three sub-districts by scat analysis and showed 99% prey items of domestic origin, only three of 211 scat contained hair of Ethiopian hare (Lepus fagani) and porcupine (Hystrix cristata). We conclude that hyenas in northern Ethiopia live at high density and eat almost exclusively anthropogenic food and are not dependent on conservation areas.
Mammalian Biology, 2013, Vol 78, Issue 3, p. 193-197
Population density; Depredation; Spotted hyena; Diet