Spotted hyenas adapt to climate change in famed Tanzanian park

Spotted hyenas adapt to climate change in famed Tanzanian park

Spotted hyenas appear to be adapting to climate change in Tanzania’s famous Serengeti National Park, surprising researchers who expected changing rainfall patterns would force the carnivores to spend more time searching for prey than tending to their cubs.

It’s getting wetter in the Serengeti, according to rainfall figures gathered over the past 30 years. The timing of migrations of large herds of herbivores like blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), well known for their mass movement across the length of the park, is also changing.

That means dinner for the hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) isn’t always where it should be, according to a new study.

“In the last decade the migratory herds have been arriving later than previously in our studied hyena clan territories,” said Morgane Gicquel, lead author of the study published in the journal Ecosphere.

Hyenas prey on wildebeest and other migratory species in the Serengeti, like zebra (Equus quagga) and Thomson’s gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii). When those herds are absent, the hyenas target non-migratory animals, including buffalo (Syncerus caffer), and antelopes like impala (Aepyceros melampus) and topi (Damaliscus lunatus).

Lead Image: A pack of hyenas in Tanzania. Image courtesy of Sonja Metzger.

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