African Zoology

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Brown hyaena (Parahyaena brunnea) diet composition from Zingela Game Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa

J. Philip B. Faure, Nadine J. Holmes, Laurence H. Watson, Russell A. Hill


Brown hyaenas Parahyaena brunnea are classified as ‘Near Threatened’. Although predominantly scavengers, they are frequently blamed for livestock depredations leading to persecution. Information on brown hyaena diets is important for understanding the degree of potential conflict with farming livelihoods and exploring diet variation across their range and how this might shift in response to land use change. Here we explore the diet of brown hyaena on a game reserve in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. We collected scats in 2013 (n = 55) and 2018 (n = 73) from Zingela Game Reserve to identify mammalian prey based on the cuticular scale imprints and cross-sectional appearance of hairs found in scat. Artiodactyls were most frequently consumed (total relative frequency of occurrence = 69.6%), dominated by common duiker Sylvicapra grimmia and steenbok Raphicerus campestris. Smaller prey were also common with Rodentia appearing in 15.8% of scats, although for all prey items there was some variation between years. We found only one occurrence of a domestic species in scats (donkey
Equus africanus). Set alongside other studies from across southern Africa the results illustrate that brown hyaena are flexible in their diet and that domestic animals generally only represent a very small proportion of their diet.

Keywords: carnivore, human-carnivore conflict, human-wildlife conflict, predator, scat analysis

AJOL African Journals Online