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The diet of the striped hyena in Nepal’s lowland regions

Citation

Shrestha, Uttam; Bhandari, Shivish; Morley, Craig; Aryal, Achyut (2021), The diet of the striped hyena in Nepal’s lowland regions, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.kd51c5b2t

Abstract

Striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) are extremely rare in Nepal and only a few people have studied them in their natural forest and grassland habitat. Their rarity is due to anthropogenic pressures such as hunting, habitat modification, being killed on roads, and depletion of their natural prey. Here, we studied the feeding ecology of hyenas in lowland, Nepal. We employed an opportunistic sampling to collect hyena scats in a range of habitats, and the line transect sampling to identify the prey of the hyena in the study site. We collected 68 hyena scats between 2015 and 2018. Most of the hyena scat (39.7%) was found in the Churia Hill forest followed by riverbed (26.4%), mixed forest (14.7%), Sal (Shorea robusta), dominated forest (11.7%), and grassland area (7.3%). We found eleven mammalian prey species, plants and some unidentified items in the hyena scats. The frequency of occurrence and relative biomass of the medium-sized wild boar (Sus scrofa) was higher than other smaller prey species such as hare (Lepus nigricollis) and, rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta). Similarly, the proportion of large prey species such as nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) in the hyena diet was lower compared with wild boar, hares and rhesus macaques indicating medium-sized wild boar is the most preferred prey species. Livestock contributed 17.3% of the total dietary biomass. Domesticated species such as goats, sheep, cows and even dogs were found in the diet of hyenas. Predation of livestock by hyenas could cause conflict, especially if this ongoing issue continues in the future. Rather, more conservation effort is required in lowland areas of Nepal to protect the hyenas' natural prey species, particularly in wildlife habitats to reduce the lure of taking domestic livestock. Similarly, conservation education at the local level and active involvement of government authorities in the conservation of this species might be helpful to mitigate human-hyena conflict in the human-dominated landscape.