As part of ongoing research investigating predator-prey interactions in the Addo Elephant National Park, researchers from the Centre for African Conservation Ecology at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University have obtained camera trap images of brown hyena in the Colchester area of the Addo Elephant National Park.
Although records of brown hyena are not new for the Park, having been previously confirmed in the Nyathi area north of the Addo-Paterson main road, this is the first time the species has been recorded in the south of the Park recently. Brown hyena occurred here historically but were eradicated in the early 1900s.
Brown hyenas are well known for their long distance dispersal abilities. These hyenas are notoriously elusive and difficult to sight and it is possible that the species may have been resident in the Park for many years but only recorded recently thanks to camera trap technology.
The brown hyena in Colchester has been recorded on two different camera traps, situated 5.5km apart. Three separate pictures have been taken spanning a two and a half month period.
The cameras used in the study employ a passive infra-red flash so as to reduce the disturbance to the animals. As a result the pictures obtained are not clear bright images that would be obtained by using a flash, but the details captured leave no doubt that there is a brown hyena in the Colchester area of the Park.
The confirmed addition of brown hyena to the species occurring in the southern area of Addo Elephant National Park is a welcome and valuable extension of the biodiversity in the Park. Visitors are encouraged to report any sightings they might have to contribute to the Park’s records.
Although brown hyena are sometimes persecuted for being predators, research has shown that they are chiefly scavengers and hardly make any kills themselves. They generally scavenge on mammal remains left by other predators such as lion and spotted hyena but will also eat fruit, insects and reptiles.
The Centre for African Conservation Ecology’s predator –prey research project in Addo Elephant National Park is made possible by sponsorships from Budget Van & Car Rental and Eveready.
Camera trap image of brown hyena in the Colchester area of Addo Elephant National Park