The Scavengers of the African Plains: Hyenas. There Natural Predators

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Hyenas are perhaps one of the most misunderstood animals in the world. Popular culture paints them as cowardly, mangy scavengers that steal kills from lions when they are fierce predators in their own right. So let’s take a closer look at these fascinating animals and some common predators they face.


What are some common predators of hyenas?


Lions, leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs.


Hyenas are common predators in many parts of the world. They are typically found in Africa but can also be found in Asia and Europe.

There are four main types of hyena predators: lions, leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs. Every kind of hyena has a different hunting style and prey preference.

  • For example, lions are known for their powerful jaws and sharp teeth, which they use to kill large prey such as zebra and wildebeest.


  • Leopards are much smaller than lions but are just as deadly. They are excellent climbers and often stalk their prey from trees before pouncing on them.


  • Cheetahs are the fastest land animal in the world and can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. They use their rate to run down fast-moving prey such as antelope and gazelle.


  • Wild dogs are also fast runners and often hunt in packs. They will chase down prey until it is too exhausted to continue running, at which point they will move in for the kill.


As you can see, there are a variety of predators that hyenas must contend with to survive in the wild.




There are several reasons why humans are predators of hyenas.

  • First, hyenas are a nuisance to humans, preying on our livestock and sometimes even attacking people.


  • Second, their scavenging habits can lead to the spread of disease.


  • Finally, they compete with us for food, often taking the kills of larger predators. While some might see them as harmless creatures, the truth is that hyenas can pose a severe threat to human populations.

As such, we must control their numbers to protect ourselves from their potential harm.


The Hyena Species


There are four species of hyena found on the African plains: the spotted hyena, the brown hyena, the striped hyena,

Spotted hyenas are the most common, making up about 90% of the hyena population in Africa. Brown and striped hyenas are much less common, while aardwolves are relatively rare. All four species are opportunistic feeders that will eat just about anything they can find, but they do have their preferred prey.


Spotted Hyenas

As their name suggests, spotted hyenas have spots all over their body except for their belly, which is white. They are also larger than other hyena species, with males weighing up to 190 kg (420 lb) and females up to 130 kg (290 lb).

Spotted hyenas primarily hunt medium-sized ungulates like zebra, wildebeest, and hartebeest. However, they will also scavenge kills made by other predators or eat carrion if necessary.

When hunting in a group, spotted hyenas use coordinated attacks to overpower their prey.

They will also attack much larger animals like cape buffalo or giraffes if they get the chance. There have been reports of real pride of lions being killed and eaten by a group of spotted hyenas!


Brown Hyenas

The Brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea) is a significant predator native to southern Africa. Also known as the straight-haired hyena, it is the smallest of the three.

Despite its name, the Brown hyena is greyish-brown, with a mane of shaggy hair running along its back.

It has a sloping back and powerful hind legs, which give it a distinctive hunched appearance. The Brown hyena is an opportunistic feeder, preying on anything from insects to large mammals.

It is also an expert scavenger, often stealing kills from other predators such as lions and leopards. Although its numbers are declining due to habitat loss and human conflict, the Brown hyena is still relatively widespread and is classed as Least Concern by the IUCN.


Striped Hyenas

The Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) is a member of the family Hyaenidae, which also includes the spotted hyena, the brown hyena, and the aardwolf.

The striped hyena is the largest of the four species, with males reaching up to 90 cm in length and females up to 80 cm. The species is found in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. It is a carnivore that preys on small to medium-sized mammals.

The striped hyena is a social animal, living in packs of up to 30 individuals. A dominant female leads the packs, and members of the pack communicate with each other using a variety of vocalizations.

Although it is not considered endangered, the striped hyena faces habitat loss and human persecution threats.



The aardwolf is a creature of the night, stalking its prey under cover of darkness. Although it is often mistaken for a hyena, the aardwolf is more closely related to the canid family, which includes dogs, foxes, and wolves.

Like hyenas, however, the aardwolf has powerful jaws and sharp teeth, which it uses to crunch up the bones of its prey. The aardwolf is a scavenger, feeding primarily on termites, but it will also hunt small mammals, lizards, and snakes if the opportunity arises.

Although it is not considered a threat to humans, the aardwolf can be aggressive when cornered and should be treated cautiously.




Hyenas are one of the most commonly misunderstood animals in the world. Thanks to popular culture’s portrayal of them as cowardly scavengers that steal kills from lions, when in reality, they are fierce predators in their own right.

Four species of hyena are found on the African plains: the spotted hyena, the brown hyena, the striped hyena, and the aardwolf, with spotted hyenas making up 90% of Africa’s current population. These scavengers prefer to feast upon medium-sized ungulates; however, they will consume any animal smaller than themselves, including the entire pride of lions!

The only regular predators of Fuller grown adult’s lions and tigers; however, human beings play a vital role in reducing habitat through hunting which should be avoided at all costs! Thanks for reading today’s post on The Scavengers Of The African Plains: Hyenas!

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