Four young spotted hyenas were introduced into Zinave National Park last year. Peace Parks Foundation, in support of the National Administration for Conservation Areas, brought them in as a founder population of the first resident large carnivores in decades.
Over the last five years, Zinave, which lies in the Mozambique component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, has seen the reintroduction of more than 2 400 wild animals, including plains game, giraffe, elephant, buffalo, warthog and even ostrich.
As Zinave’s herbivore population was growing so well, it became time to reintroduce predators into the system. Animals die of natural causes, but because there are no large predators and very few scavengers in Zinave’s sanctuary where most of the wildlife was introduced, the carcasses are not being properly recycled.
The ecological impact of spotted hyena entering Zinave’s system has been significant as the species is both a predator, taking off weaker animals from herds which keeps the gene pool strong, as well as a scavenger that cleans up carcasses, ensuring the system remains disease-free.
The amazing news that the new residents introduced into Zinave have had a cub. This is the first resident spotted hyena born here in more than four decades.
Hyena are extremely skilled at hiding their dens, especially when they have cubs, which means that the monitoring team has their work cut out for them when trying to locate them. Having multiple dens within Zinave’s 18 600 hectare sanctuary means the team has to get creative.
Hannes van Wyk – Aviation Manager and Chief Pilot for Peace Parks – is helping to locate the den by putting up camera traps trained on recent kills. Being both hunter and scavenger, hyena are past masters at locating and stripping carcasses, so this time finding a buffalo that died of natural causes is quite handy. Once cameras are set up the team retreats, then broadcasts the high-pitched squealing sounds of a pig to entice the hyena out of hiding. Then they wait.
Unfortunately, the hyena outsmarts the team and leave them waiting in vain this time around.
Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation, cited the hyena cubs as a beacon of hope for the work of Peace Parks. No matter how challenging things get, especially when the world has been brought to a near halt by a global pandemic, new life will find a way.
Keep watching PeaceParks.TV to follow the story of the hyena cub. We will share the story as soon as we have any news!