Rare hyena spotted in Turkmenistan
Posted on 02 February 2007
A striped hyena has been spotted in north-eastern Turkmenistan, a rare sighting for a species close to extinction in Central Asia.Amu Darya, Turkmenistan – A striped hyena has been spotted in north-eastern Turkmenistan, a rare sighting for a species close to extinction in Central Asia.
Attracted by a growing number of prey, particularly bukhara deer, the threatened scavenger was recently spotted for the first time in the Amu Darya nature reserve.
“We heard a crackling sound on the other side of the river and than a young deer run out from the bushes,” said Nadezhda Sokolova, who works in the reserve on a WWF bukhara deer project. “At first the deer was being chased by two jackals, but they were frightened off by something bigger. To our surprise, we saw a hyena.”
Since the sighting Sokolova and her colleagues have found various hyena tracks and have heard howls in different parts of the reserve.
“It seems that the hyena is settling down in the reserve,” she noted.
The striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) used to be widespread throughout the southern part of Central Asia, but numbers decreased drastically in the second half of the 20th century due to a decrease in ungulate populations and habitat loss to agriculture. The species now can be found mostly in southern Turkmenistan, but only in small numbers. In Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, only a few individuals have been recorded in recent years. Exact data on the number of hyenas left or the state of the population have not been collected.
The discovery of a striped hyena in the northern part of Turkmenistan is a good sign that the environment is recovering.
“In natural ecosystems, hyenas may be an important indicator when assessing ungulate populations,” said Olga Pereladova, Head of WWF’s Central Asia Programme. “Every sign of positive changes in the area’s biodiversity is important.”
WWF is currently working in Turkmenistan, as well as throughout the Central Asian region, to develop a network of protected areas for the benefit of wildlife and the local communities.
• The Striped hyena is grayish-brown all over, with black stripes on their legs, torso, head and back. Their muzzle and ears are entirely black. They have a medium sized mane on their neck and shoulders. The striped hyena can erect the long hair on its mane and appear 38% bigger, which it does when it feels threatened. The Striped Hyena has a life span 10-12 years, but can live longer than this when kept in captivity (Source: Wikipedia).
• Striped hyenas weigh from 26-41kg. Length is about 1.2-1.45m from head to tail, and they stand about 66-75cm tall at the shoulder. There is not much difference between the sizes of the male and female.
For further information:
Masha Vinokurova, Communications Officer
Tel: + 7 095 727 0939