A seasonal feast: long-term analysis of feeding behaviour in the spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta)

Author(s)Susan M. Cooper, Kay E. Holekamp and Laura Smale
Year Published1999
JournalAfrican Journal of Ecology
Page Numbers149-160
Size375.75 KB

The feeding behaviour of the Talek clan of spotted hyaenas in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, was monitored continuously for 7 years. Talek hyaenas adapted to large temporal variations in prey abundance by being opportunistic predators. During the first half of the year, the hyaenas fed on resident ungulates, and their diet consisted mainly of topi and Thomson’s gazelles. Upon arrival of the migratory herds of wildebeest and zebra from the Serengeti, Talek hyaenas switched to feeding on the wildebeest which provided them with a superabundance of food for about 3 months. After the migratory animals returned to the Serengeti, Talek hyaenas experienced a period of reduced prey abundance due to the temporary dispersion of resident ungulates. At this time hyaenas hunted the few remaining wildebeest, and also increased their use of the remaining resident animals. Although Talek hyaenas were generally opportunistic in their feeding behaviour, they did exhibit clear dietary preference for larger prey species, particularly wildebeest.Finally, carrion comprised only 5% of the biomass consumed by Talek hyaenas, the lowest proportion of carrion in the diet of any Crocuta population studied to date.

Key Words: Crocuta, feeding behaviour, hyaena, predator, prey

Authors: Susan M. Cooper, Kay E. Holekamp and Laura Smale

Journal: African Journal of Ecology 

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