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Rediscovery of the striped hyaena Hyaena hyaena in the central High Atlas after 22 years

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2022

Abderrazak El Alami
Ministry of National Education, Beni Mellal, Morocco.
El Mustapha Bouzid
Ministry of National Education, Beni Mellal, Morocco.
Aderrazzak Fattah
University of Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco


Conservation News
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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence CC BY 4.0.
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Fauna & Flora International

The geographical range of the striped hyaena Hyaena hyaena extends from North and East Africa through Arabia and Anatolia to India, and it is categorized as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. The Moroccan central High Atlas Mountains have a rich and varied biological diversity and are home to > 24 wild mammal species, including the striped hyaena. With support from The Rufford Foundation, we surveyed the wild carnivores of this area during 2019–2022, concluding that a number of species have been extirpated and others are at risk of extinction. The leopard Panthera pardus and serval Leptailurus serval are extirpated, the Egyptian mongoose Herpestes ichneumon and common genet Genetta genetta have become rare, the Eurasian otter Lutra lutra and wildcat Felis silvestris less abundant, and only the golden jackal Canis aureus, African wolf Canis lupus lupaster, red fox Vulpes vulpes and least weasel Mustela nivalis are still relatively abundant.

Formerly, the last observation of the striped hyena in these mountains was in 2000. On 20 April 2022, however, an adult hyaena was killed by an inhabitant in the region of Faryata, 22 km north-east of the town of Beni Mellal, and was photographed by local residents. The publication of the video mobilized the local authorities to examine the circumstances of the killing, as capturing or killing threatened species is illegal. This record confirms the species has not completely disappeared from the central High Atlas Mountains. Our previous studies showed that the range of the striped hyaena has declined in this area and that the greatest threats to the long-term survival of this carnivore are overhunting, habitat destruction and highly fragmented populations. Measures are required to conserve the striped hyaena and other native carnivores of these mountains, including education to raise awareness about the ecological and economic roles of wild carnivores, and monitoring of native carnivores and their habitats. It is also important to manage human–carnivore interactions, such as that which resulted in the killing of this striped hyaena in April, to increase public tolerance for wild carnivores.