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Brown hyena - rare sighting?

Discuss activities available in the Kruger National Park, and follow all the sighting reports.
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Brown Hyaena

Unread post by ColWD » Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:54 am

Hi guys
Was just wondering whether anyone on the forum has seen brown hyaena in the Park?
I know that they do tend to favour drier areas, but they have recorded near Letaba and the northern sandveld (Hilton-Barber and Berger, Exploring Kruger) in the past. No mention is made of how recently they have been sighted though.
Thanks a mil.

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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by gmlsmit » Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:33 pm

We had a sighting of a Brown Hyaena in KNP during our first visit - August 1967 at the bridge across the Olifants River, near Balule.

Col. Stevenson-Hamilton the first Warden of the Park reported that although this species was rare in the north-eastern Transvaal, it was found throughout the KRUGER PARK although never numerous, natives who lived north of Lourenco Marques and along the lower course of the Limpopo knew them well and stated that they were quite common, contrary to the inhabitants of the Sabi area who did not know of the species.

The first one the Warden knew being caught in the Park was when young goats were regularly taken from a kraal situated in the hills, traps were set for the marauding Leopard.
A large male Brown Hyaena was caught in a trap near the kraal.
A month later a female was caught in a deep ravine near the kraal.
A few others were caught in traps at the intervals of a year or two.

Col Stevenson-Hamilton reported that during the winter of 1941, at a spot on the northern bank of the Sabi River, screened by thick bush and reeds, an Ant-bear warren was discovered which had been converted into the den of a family of Brown Hyaenas, which seemed to have been occupied for several years, there were several entrances to the warren which covered an area of some ten meters of open space.

The vicinity was littered with bones and it was quite evident that most if not all the prey had been seized alive and killed by the Brown Hyaena family.
The skulls of fourteen full grown Impala rams and many Baboon skulls and skulls of two Cheetahs and the remains of many Guinea Fowl ens even that of a half eaten Boomslang were found.

The family occupied the same quarters all through the 1941 tourist season, and were viewed by many of the visitors, eventually a couple of male Lions who must have been attracted by the smell, dug up the warren and the Brown Hyaenas moved to a similar site a few miles distant.

He also reported that he came across a Brown Hyaena twice once on the road and the animal made off with great agility, without the clumsy gait of its bigger cousin - Crocuta.

Dr Tol Pienaar reported sightings of the species however never plentiful, during the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s in the Central and Northern parts of KRUGER.
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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by ColWD » Sun Dec 12, 2010 5:48 pm

Much appreciated all.
Some very interesting reading. It raises a few questions regarding the introduction of artificial waterholes. Its a bit of a catch twenty two, increased the number of grazers and ellies in the park at the expense of other species.
It looks as if there had been a small but viable population of brown hyaenas, possibly now down to a few vagrant individuals. Very sad, can't help but think that the roan antelope is in a similar position.

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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by shortcourse » Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:29 pm

This question has come up a number of times and there are forum members who believe that there are the occasional brown hyena that pops into Kruger while other forum members categorically deny the existence of brown hyenas in Kruger! Based on evidence, it would appear that there used to be far more 'regular' sightings of brown hyenas in Kruger, although they have always been a very unusual sighting.
They favour arid areas such as Kalagadi but, as an aside, I know for a fact that a brown hyena was sighted between Ulundi and Vryheid in Zululand. Now that really is not their terrain!!! Unfortunately it was shot by one of the boys - it was feeding on one of the dead cattle and the boys thought it was a spotted hyena and shot it. The owner of the farm has the skin hanging in his house and there is no mistaking it as being that of a brown hyena! PS - this was a 'recent' sighting - two years ago. So if a brown hyena can be seen in Zululand then I have no doubt that one could be sighted in Kruger!!!

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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by o-dog » Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:09 am

Great info gmlsmit :clap:

...its quite widely known on the forum but for those who havn't come across the info, a positive sighting of a Brown Hyena was had in the Sabi Sands (video evidence) earlier this year or last. It was seen y 2 separate lodges.

I have also met land owners who have farms just South of Kruger by about 15 km or so. They have brown hyenas nothing stopping the occasional animal to wonder across.

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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by Tilla-P » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:45 pm

I know I'll get shot down, and I'll probably deserve it because it is all very unlikely. However...

We spent the 5th of December at Skukuza. On our morning drive we saw something weird in the bush, about 50m away from the road. It was sooo quick, so there was no time for photos. BUT, the animal was a dark brown colour, and had the same build as a hyena. It definetly had no spots. I never saw the head, as "thingie" disappeared into the bush so quickly. But the body, especially the backlegs, looked like a hyena.

But it couldn't be, right? :big_eyes: We stayed there for quite a while to try and spot it again, but no luck. There were no other cars around, so we were the only eyes there.
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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by johanrebel » Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:40 am

A brown hyaena was seen about two weeks ago in the Makuleke section of the park, by a guide from The Outpost heading back to camp in the evening along the road from the main tar to the lodge, locally known as Home Run.


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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by ndloti » Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:53 am

There was also a sighting in the area in 2002 .

From: Rob Thomson
Sent: 17 September 2002 10:50 AM
To: KNP-Rangers; KNP - Research; KNP - Hospitality Managers; KNP - Regional Managers; CIS (Corporate Investigation Services)
Cc: Wouter Jordaan; Phineas Nobela; Marc Mcdonald; Leon Serfontein

Dear all

... on sunday night at 19h00, while we were returning from Lanner Gorge from the West via pafuri gate. Approximately 5km East of the pafuri gate running towards us was the most magnificent specimen of a large Brown hyaena. Due to its size I assume it could be a female. It was in excellent condition, I could not find a scratch on its face from 30m. It ran in the road for around 30 sec, before it turned and vanished into the bush, its long hair flowing in the wind as it ran away from us.

This is only the second 'wild' Brown Hyaena I have seen, the first being at Venetia Limpopo reserve. Wilbert Von Voort said he thought he saw one two years ago in the Nyalaland trails area, and Dr. Gus reckons there have only been six other sightings (records) in his time in the park. Gus, please correct me if I am wrong.

Could they be moving in and out the area, due to positive change in water policy (Pienaar/Mills)? An opinion which I believe is valid, especially long term.

The Spotted 'brother' does occur in the area but their numbers are not too high, however they are the dominant predator in the Pafuri, while the lion population is minimal.

The Nyalaland area and blocks 12 & 13 (East of the Tar road) are so vast with little human movement and no roads, that their could be more of these hyaena walking around out there. There areas of movement are so massive and number density low that it is hard to tell for sure.

Hope you find this e-mail of interest.

Anyway, it was a privilage to see this rare specie in Kruger, and welcome any other resposes, especially from the old hands in the 'bush' park.


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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by Timandmel » Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:33 pm

About 15 years ago, my wife and I saw one on the eastern side , in other words the Lower Sarbie side, of the Salitje road, we didn't get pic's, as we didn't have a camara, but it ran in the road in front of our car, so we got a good look, before it moved of into the bush.

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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by Bushmad » Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:06 pm

This makes for exciting reading! :o

We often don't realise just how big Kruger actually is.... the vastness of the spaces beyond what the eye can see no doubt hold some wonderful secrets and it seems very likely that Brown Hyenas do still roam the remote parts...far away from tourist roads...albeit in small numbers.

The best way to understand the size of Kruger is NOT to go to Kruger but rather to visit a country that is the same size or smaller than Kruger and see that even in places like that, which are developed with bustling metropolis', free-ways, shopping centres, schools, farms, industry, smaller towns...suburbs etc. STILL have city parks AND wilderness areas preserved as National Parks....then you realise how big Kruger actually is. Then it is easier to see how its possible to almost never see certain shy and rare species. There are probably many Leopards and many other mammals of all kinds in Kruger that have never seen a car or people in their entire lives because their territories or ranges are located far away from roads. The ones we see are the one's whose territories and home ranges include tourist areas and they become habituated.

From what appear to be reliable reports above, there clearly is a presence of these animals in Kruger and greater Kruger....its just good to know that one of us may one day be fortunate enough to see and photograph one in Kruger!
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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by JCM » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:22 pm

Just to refresh the topic about brown hyena sightings.
They've spotted brown hyena twice this month at the Makuleke concession in the north at Pafuri camp.
The sighting was at the western section of the concession.

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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by jb72 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:28 pm

I asked our guide at satara this past weekend, and he said he had seen a brownie near pafuri a couple of weeks ago.

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Re: Brown Hyaena

Unread post by firefinch » Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:14 am

Another brown hyaena spotted in Pafuri recently:

From Wilderness Adventures newsletter

"It would be safe to say that July was the month of unusual sightings for us at Pafuri, as a brown hyaena was spotted twice on the western side of the concession towards the end of the month.
We also had a great sighting of common reedbuck along the Limpopo floodplain.
There is a very small population of these antelope along the floodplains and they are very elusive, there strange alarm call being the only clue to their presence in most cases."

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Brown hyena - rare sighting?

Unread post by Oribie » Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:02 pm

Sunday 2 October 2011, 17h47 my wife and I spotted a brown Hyena near Crocodile Bridge. It crossed the road from the West and moved in the direction of the river. It is a full grown hyena with fairly long hair, peak condition. Is this a rare sighting as it is the first time we saw one in Kruger.

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Re: Brown hyena - rare sighting?

Unread post by Bundi » Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:10 pm

Welcome to the forum Oribie.

It is a very rare sighting and quite a lot of time has been dedicated on this forum speculating whether they actually exist in Kruger. Nobody has been able to produce a picture as evidence so far.

Do you perhaps have one, to clear up this myth once and for all?

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