The ecology of spotted hyena,Crocuta crocuta, in Majete Wildlife Reserve, Malawi

Retief, Francois (2016-03)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The management of predators plays an important role in conservation management today because of the intensive management requirement of small fenced off protected areas. Apex predators such as spotted hyena, Crocuta crocuta, are situated at the top of food chains and have the ability to influence the composition and density of meso-predators and herbivores. Knowledge of apex predators through research can assist in effective management decisions which will ensure ecosystem functioning. Majete Wildlife Reserve (MWR) in the south of Malawi, is a 700km2 reserve, which had noinformation on the resident spotted hyena population until this study. The aims of this study were to gather and make available as much information as possible on the ecology of this apex predator in the reserve for management purposes. A total of 47 camera traps were stationed throughout the reserve for 22 months from 2013 - 2015 and from these data population size, the number of clans (groups), home range size and activity patterns were determined. Faecal analysis was performed to identify the preferred species preyed upon. The reserve has two small, low density resident spotted hyena populations, each with a large home range. These are distinct traits of hyenas residing in arid regions with a clumped resource distribution. The activity patterns of MWR hyenas were similar to East African hyenas in some aspects but peaks in activity differed between the two populations. A total of 17 prey species were identified, with some obvious preferred species. Based on the results from this study, is it recommended that management should make decisions which would favour an increase in the hyena population. At this stage, further lion, Panthera leo, reintroductions should be avoided, as they are the number one competitor of spotted hyena. Both prey and hyena numbers should be monitored in the future to determine whether the hyena population might be in an Allee effect, in which case hyena reintroduction may be considered to restore the balance. It is also suggested that local communities should be educated about hyenas and their role in the environment. This would increase the protection of hyena clans outside the reserve boundaries. These populations are needed for genetic diversity in the MWR hyena population since contact between the populations has been found. Genetic diversity is important for the long term conservation of small populations such as the spotted hyena population in MWR.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die bestuur van roofdiere speel ‘n belangrike rol in wildbewaring vandag a.g.v die intensiewe bestuur van klein omheinde bewaar-areas. Top roofdiere soos gevlekte hiëna wat bo aan voedselkettings sit, het die vermoë om die samestelling en digtheid van meso-roofdiere en herbivore te beïnvloed. Kennis van top roofdiere deur navorsing, kan bestuur help om effektiewe besluitnemingskeuses te maak wat ekosisteem funksionering sal verseker. Majete Wildlife Reservaat (MWR) in die Suide van Malawi, is ‘n 700km2 reservaat wat geeninligting gehad het tot en met hierdie studie, rondom die residensiële hiëna bevolking nie. Die studie het beoog om soveel as moontlik inligting rondom die residensiële hiëna bevolking te versamel en beskikbaar te stel vir bestuur doeleindes. Kamera lokvalle was gestel regoor die reservaat vir 22 maande van 2013 - 2015 en van hierdie data was bevolkings grootte, die getal groepe, gebieds grootte en aktiwiteitspatrone bepaal. Fekale analises was gedoen om verkose prooi spesies te identifiseer. Die reservaat het twee klein, lae digtheid residensiële hiëna bevolkings, elk met ‘n groot gebied. Hierdie is kenmerkende eienskappe van hiënas wat woon in dorpebiede met oneweredige hulpbron verspreiding. Die aktiwiteitspatrone van hiënas in MWR het ooreengestem met die van Oos Afrika hiënas in sommige aspekte, maar aktiwiteits pieke het verskil tussen die twee populasies. ‘n Totaal van 17 prooi spesies was ge-identifiseer, met duidelike verkose spesies. Op grond van hierdie navorsingsresultate, word aanbeveel dat die bestuur besluite moet neem wat sal lei tot ‘n toename in die hiëna bevolking. Op hierdie stadium moet verdere leeu hervestiging vermy word, aangesien hul die grootste kompetisie vir gevlekte hiëna’s is. Beide prooi en hiëna getalle moet ook gemonitor word om vas te stel of die hiëna bevolking tans in ‘n Allee effek is. Indien wel, kan hiëna hervestiging oorweeg word om die balans te herstel. Dit word ook voorgestel dat plaaslike gemeenskappe opgevoed moet word rondom hiëna’s en hul rol in die omgewing. Dit sal die beskerming van hiëna populasies buite die reservaat grense verbeter. Hierdie populasies is noodsaaklik vir genetiese diversiteit in die MWR hiëna populasie aangesien daar kontak tussen beide populasies gevind was. Genetiese diversiteit is belangrik vir die langtermyn bewaring van klein populasies soos die hiëna bevolking in MWR.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98847
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