Friday, October 26, 2012

Hyenas & Humans: Best Friends.

Hyenas have rarely topped the list when it comes to cute fuzzy animals that need to be preserved and protected. Apparently, though, they've decided to take manners into their own hands. Hyenas in Northern Ethiopia have faced severe environment degradation and fragmentation due to agricultural and urban expansion in the area. In turn, their traditional prey sources have been limited or removed entirely. The combination of these two events is a classic set-up for a population collapse, but they Hyenas had different ideas.

The wild dogs maintain significant population density in the affected areas despite the habitat alteration. They've done this by establishing an almost 100% anthropogenic (from man) diet; that is to say cows, sheep, and other livestock. These hardy hunters and scavengers have saved themselves by benefiting from the factors (us) that in the same circumstances might otherwise have wiped them out. Not only have they accomplished this though, but they have done it in such a way as to co-exist with rather than hamper the human communities they are dispersed through. By report from individuals living in the area, the Hyenas operate at a level and in a fashion that is not significantly disruptive to the agricultural endeavors of the communities and so are left widely unharmed.

In fact, the Hyenas even provide a service to the developing communities interloping on their former territory. The small residences that make up a majority of the overlapping area by and large have no waste disposal services, that is, expect for Hyenas. The scavengers do a decent job of clearing organic detritus from around the farms and homes in the area allowing them access to a food source without intruding into the human interests. In short, the Hyenas have adapted admirably to what could have been a disastrous situation. It may not be an ideal solution, and the animals are far removed from their "natural" behaviors, but they do still exist in good numbers. Fixes like this, though not intentional, could pave the way for some integration of large animals into human development areas rather than simply eradicating or displacing them.

From the Article:

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