Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)

Conservation Status

Least Concern (LC)

Physical Description

Shoulders higher than rump, sloped back, short brown-yellow coat with numerous dark brown splotches. Rounded ears.
Weight 60-80 Kg
Size 120-180cm long, 85cm shoulder height
Lifespan (wild) 20-25 years
Lifespan (captivity) 12-41 years


Nocturnal and sometimes diurnal in safe, protected areas. Female led family groups from 3 to 15+ individuals. Territories of ‘clans’ are marked with anal gland secretions, urine, and white fecal droppings known as latrine sites and are defended against other clans. Can be very vocal where present.

Social and Reproduction

Very social animals, in which all member of the clan work to protect and raise young. Hunting sometimes occurs in packs depending on prey size. Vocalizations are frequent to identify locations of other individuals of clan.

Mating System Polygamy (Polygynandry)
Breeding interval 16 months, with a range of 11-21 months
Breeding season Throughout the year.
Gestation 110 days
Number of offspring 1-4 cubs born to each female. Young are uniform dark brown with lighter heads, spots begin to appear at around 4 months at which time they are moved from underground dens and begin moving with the clan.

Habitat and Food


Open country including sand dunes, rocky areas and bushveld. Absent from coastal areas.


Scavengers but also hunters of large prey. Prey includes insects up to zebra, kudu and some reported giraffe kills. During a hunt, hyenas can maintain a speed of around 45 kmh to catch prey animals.


Lions and humans.

Conservation Challenges

Hyenas are not regarded as a ‘sexy’ species for conservation, and thus their importance to ecosystems are often overlooked or disregarded.

Naankuse Solutions

Current studies are being conducted to learn more about spotted hyena social behavior, diet, territory range, and movements to better understand the species and formulate mitigative measures for reducing conflict.


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Spotted Hyena at Naankuse sites