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Ecology and conservation of spotted hyena in human dominated landscapes in northern Ethiopia

Promotors: Prof.dr. G.R. de Snoo, Prof.dr. H. Leirs (Univ. Antwerpen)

G. Yirga Abay
05 december 2013
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Most scientific literature on hyena-human interrelationships in Africa sug-gests conflict situations, often resulting in the killing of hyenas. Hyenas survive with difficulty in human-altered habitats and coexistence between hyenas and local communities is problematic. This is because hyenas need extensive areas, usually with few people and sufficient prey. In contrast to this, the present dissertation presents an exceptional case of peaceful co-existence between hyenas and humans. Based on regular observations of hyenas and anecdotal reports, I hypothesized that hyenas in the Tigray re-gion, northern Ethiopia, survive in human-dominated landscapes because of a unique combination of adaptation to anthropogenic food and cultural tolerance towards hyenas. My research aimed to investigate hyena ecology and behavior in human-dominated and prey-depleted landscapes in Tigray. Hyenas are common in many parts of Ethiopia, and in most of those areas, prey populations have been depleted. In northern Ethiopia, the natural prey base is depleted due to agricultural expansion, deforestation, human settle-ment, and habitat fragmentation and degradation.