|Hunting the spotted hyena|
|Written by Staff Reporter|
|Wednesday, 11 July 2012 21:43|
A letter from the Kyaramacan Association committee (established by the San people living in the Caprivi National park) was sent to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism recently, requesting that spotted hyenas be removed from the hunting quota for Bwabwata National Park.The results of a study by the Caprivi Carnivore Project support the recommendation for the permanent removal of spotted hyenas from the hunting quota for Bwabwata National Park, as this practice has no community benefit and is destructive to the conservation of this keystone predator.
There appears to be a lack of knowledge regarding spotted hyenas and the need for their conservation, particularly within protected areas. Spotted hyenas are considered conservation-dependent and are classified as threatened and increasingly reliant on protected areas, but gaps in knowledge, poor species management, indiscriminate killing and constraints on conservation measures are listed as problems in hyena conservation plans.
With regards to the rational utilisation of this species, their population dynamics and strict dominance hierarchy, along with complex intra-specific relationships makes them a poor candidate for trophy-hunting.
Trophy hunting of spotted hyenas is unsustainable throughout the Caprivi and Kavango regions and is particularly destructive within Bwabwata National Park where clans are small and density is exceptionally low throughout the majority of the park.
Low fertility is a fact, as female hyenas struggle to conceive and to give birth. A female hyena may produce only ten offspring in her entire life and possibly 50% of hyena cubs survive. Hyena offspring require an unusually long period of nutritional dependence on the mother, which can be up to 24 months, but is usually between 14 and 18 months. Because their reproduction is so slow they struggle to recover their numbers even under natural systems.
The loss of the dominant female means the loss of cubs. Unlike lions, there is no communal care of the young. Targeting dispersing males in the multiple-use areas could be equally destructive, as immigrant males are important for reproduction as they sire all cubs within a clan. Nearly all spotted hyenas are the offspring of males born elsewhere. Building relationships with new clans take years and immigrant males must remain within a new clan for at least two years before he sires his first offspring.
Trophy-hunting as a means of alleviating human wildlife conflict is indiscriminate and therefore ineffective in dealing with an actual problem animal. Occasional incidences of human wildlife conflict do not justify the perpetual hunting of the species inside a protected area, particularly when human wildlife conflict can be minimised by increased vigilance over livestock by the community.
Financial benefits to the community through hyena trophy-hunting within Bwabwata National Park is minimal (N$6 750 per annum), unsustainable and short-lived. The permanent removal of spotted hyenas from the hunting quota would be a positive step for spotted hyena conservation in the Caprivi Region.