The secret lives of urban hyenas: new study sheds light on city-dwelling scavengers

Uncategorized By May 19, 2023

Urban hyenas are scavengers and opportunistic hunters that have adapted to thrive off waste and scraps from human’s urbanization of cities. Highly misunderstood, these animals have now adapted to coexist with humans in urban environments. Results from a University of Oxford and University of Cape Town study reveal that urban hyenas have established social hierarchies and use unique vocalisations to communicate in the noisy urban environment. Urban hyenas are mostly seen as being rarely seen or threatening to humans unless provoked or threatened, and they have an important role in consuming urban waste and carrion.

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The Secret Lives of Urban Hyenas: New Study Sheds Light on City-Dwelling Scavengers

The Rise of Urban Hyenas

What We Know About Urban Hyenas

The New Study

The Secret Lives of Urban Hyenas


The Rise of Urban Hyenas:

Hyenas are a well-known animal in the African wilderness, but in recent years, they have also made a name for themselves in the urban jungle. Urbanization has led to a rise in the number of hyenas inhabiting cities, where they can find a steady source of food and shelter. Hyenas are scavengers and opportunistic hunters, which means they can survive on food scraps and waste that humans leave behind.

What We Know About Urban Hyenas:

Studies have shown that urban hyenas are thriving in cities such as Harar in Ethiopia, Mumbai in India, and Nairobi in Kenya. They are known to scavenge from garbage bins, raid chicken coops, and even prey on small domestic animals such as dogs and cats. Despite their reputation as vile and aggressive animals, urban hyenas have adapted to coexist with humans in these environments, and in some cases, they even benefit from humans’ presence.

The New Study:

Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Cape Town conducted a study on urban hyenas in the city of Harar, Ethiopia. The study aimed to shed light on the secret lives of these animals and understand how they have adapted to urban environments.

The team used GPS tracking collars to track the movements of seven hyenas over a period of several months. They found that the hyenas spent most of their time in the outskirts of the city, where they had access to food such as garbage and domestic animals. However, the researchers were surprised to find that the hyenas also ventured into the city center occasionally, where they scavenged from food outlets and even interacted with humans.

The Secret Lives of Urban Hyenas:

The study revealed several interesting findings about the secret lives of urban hyenas. Firstly, the hyenas had established social hierarchies similar to those found in their natural habitats. The GPS tracking showed that the dominant female hyena had access to the best food sources and was accompanied by a male hyena, who helped her hunt and scavenge.

Secondly, the researchers found that the hyenas had developed unique vocalizations that allowed them to communicate with each other in the noisy urban environment. They also found that the hyenas used different routes and locations to access food depending on the time of day, suggesting a degree of spatial awareness and memory.

Lastly, the study found that despite living in close proximity to humans, the hyenas were rarely seen or encountered by people. This suggests that urban hyenas have learned to avoid humans and have developed a level of stealth and caution that keeps them safe.


Q: Are urban hyenas dangerous to humans?

A: While hyenas are often portrayed as aggressive and threatening animals, they are generally not a threat to humans unless provoked or threatened.

Q: Do urban hyenas pose a risk to domestic animals?

A: Yes, urban hyenas have been known to prey on small domestic animals such as pets. It is important for pet owners to take precautions and keep their pets secure.

Q: Should we be concerned about the rise of urban hyenas?

A: While urban hyenas may seem like a nuisance to some, they are an important part of the ecosystem and play a crucial role in keeping cities clean by consuming waste and carrion. The rise of urban hyenas is a natural response to urbanization, and it is important for us to learn to coexist with these animals in a responsible and sustainable way.