Striped hyena belongs to the Hyaenidae family and is scientifically known as Hyaena hyaena. Strongly related to the Brown hyena, it is basically a solitary creature. The average lifespan of striped hyenas hovers somewhere around 10 to 12 years in the wild. When kept in captivity, they can live longer also.
The body coat of a striped hyena is covered with grayish-brown fur. Its
legs, torso, head and back have black vertical stripes all over, while,
muzzle and ears are totally black. There is also a medium sized mane on
its neck, shoulders as well as the back. When threatened, a striped
hyena erects the hair on its mane, making itself look 30-40 percent
bigger than it actually is. This activity is also used in displays
against other striped hyenas.
The underside of its neck is covered with a black throat patch. The
legs are quite long and the tail is feathery, reaching the hocks.
Striped hyena of India may grow to a length of 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to
1.45m). It stands tall at a shoulder height of 2.2 to 2.5 feet (66 to
75cm). Striped hyenas weigh between 57 and 90 pounds (26 and 41 kg). The
size of a male and a female striped hyena does not differ too much.
Quite similar to a number of other hot climate animals, their ears also
Striped hyenas are found occupying the tropical savanna, grasslands,
semi-deserts, scrub forests and woodlands. In the Indian subcontinent,
they inhabit open country, seashores as well as forests. Their
geographical range also stretches on form Morocco and Senegal to
Tanzania, across Asia Minor, the Arabian Peninsula, all the way to Iran
and Pakistan, apart from India. Striped hyenas are believed to have
become extinct in Europe. However, they can be sporadically spotted in
Anatolia and Turkey.
Striped Hyenas are mainly carnivores, but may eat fruit also. Their
prey includes insects and small animals like mice, mammalian carrion,
tortoise, porcupine and wild pigs. They may also hunt domestic animals,
like goats, sheep, donkeys, and horses.
Striped hyenas are nomads by nature and move from one water hole to
another. Still, they never venture more than 6 miles from their previous
water hole. Hyenas are not gregarious creatures and live mostly in
isolation. At times, one can find them congregating in small family
groups. Striped hyenas of India can be frequently seen seizing and
shaking each other by the neck in mock fighting rituals.
Female striped hyenas attain maturity when they reach 2-3 years of age.
Their estrous cycle lasts for 45 to 50 days and they can mate throughout
the year. The gestation period is 88 to 92 days and the number of young
ones may be anywhere from 1 to 5. The usual number of cubs is two and
they start eating meat after 30 days.
Relationship with other predators
Striped hyenas of India are basically scavengers, which thrive on the
kills of other predators. This habit of theirs results in a
confrontation with the other predators. In India and the Middle East,
the striped hyenas may, at times, enter into a conflict with the wolves
also. Striped hyenas may be able to dominate very young tigers also.
Striped hyenas are included in the list of 'Near Threatened' species.
The exact population of the striped hyenas of India is not known.
Striped hyena faces no threat from natural predators, since it does not
have one. Their main threat is from humans, with whom they constantly
come into conflict. Striped hyenas may make human beings, mainly
children, and livestock their target. This is the main reason why they
are poisoned and trapped by people. Striped hyena of India is also
poached since its parts are believed to have curative properties. Last
but not the least, it is facing the threat of habitat destruction.