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Climate change has caused a decline in the presence of migratory prey in spotted hyenas’ territory. This is the main finding of an article published lately in the scientific journal Ecosphere.

Researchers from Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and France’s Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE) examined the relationship between both rainfall volume and migrating herbivore existence in hyena clan territories in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, as well as lactating hyenas’ reactions to recent changes in the climate-prey relationship.

They found that a significant increase in yearly rainfall throughout this time decreased the number of migratory herds within the hyena clan areas, using an empirical fact dataset spanning three decades.

Female hyenas’ capacity to acquire prey and properly nurse their young was not affected. This indicated that hyenas’ foraging behavior is highly flexible in response to changing environmental circumstances.

Animals’ behavior in climate change

Kenyan Safari

(Photo : Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Understanding the processes and extent to which animals in various habitats are robust to climate change is critical, as per ScienceDaily.

Changes in precipitation timing or amount can affect plant development and, as a result, the distribution of migratory herbivores like the blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) and plains zebras (Equus quagga) in Tanzania’s Serengeti habitat.

As a result, climate change may have an impact on the location of profitable feeding places for predators that feed on these herbivores, such as spotted hyenas.

According to a recent study, spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) can adapt their foraging behavior in response to variations in migratory prey presence in their territory caused by recent changes in rainfall pattern and volume.

Data from a long-term experiment on three clans of spotted hyenas in the Serengeti National Park was analyzed by scientists from the Leibniz-IZW and CEFE.

From 1990 through 2019, the three clans were closely watched on a near-daily basis.

The Serengeti’s total annual rainfall has grown significantly over the last three decades, according to weather statistics.

Researchers decided to focus on motherly den participation and the appearance of lactating hyenas with completely milk-dependent descendants at communitarian dens to evaluate how the hyenas reacted to these changes in precipitation and prey abundant supply in their territories, said Morgane Gicquel, first author of a paper and doctoral student at the Leibniz-IZW.

A decrease in migrating herd involvement inside clan territory is likely to increase the number of times mothers spend away from their children foraging for prey.

According to Dr. Sarah Benhaiem, lead author of the article and senior scientist at the Leibniz-IZW, the findings showed that hyenas may not rely on anticipation of where migratory herds should be on a particular month, but rather use different methods of discovering appropriate feeding places while traveling.

The direction from which well-fed clan members return to the cave, or the smell trail left by these individuals, might provide information on the optimal way to set off on a commuting trip to a hyena.

Also Read: Spotted Hyenas Thinking Outside the Box

How spotted hyenas forage for their food?

According to the book Advances in the study of behavior Volume 42, Spotted hyenas’ foraging habit is very adaptable.

To begin, these creatures may get food by hunting living animals or scavenging dead ones’ corpses.

In ten research communities where the relative proportions of hunted and scavenged meals have been reported, spotted hyenas get 66.5% of their diet from self-killed kills and just 33.5% from scavenged food items.

Furthermore, both within and across clans, spotted hyenas show remarkable adaptability in terms of prey choices.

Hyenas may get energy and nutrition from a wide variety of food, including everything from minute insects to huge animals.

Furthermore, it is spotted hyenas’ remarkable diversity in foraging behavior that allows them to thrive in such a diverse range of African habitats, including locations where other big predators have gone extinct.

Related article: Higher Social Status Means Healthier Lives… for Wild Animals

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