Mike Unwin
United Kingdom UK

Mike is an award winning wildlife writer, editor of Travel Zambia magazine and author of the Bradt Guide to Southern African Wildlife.

Category: African Wildlife

Brown Hyena

The Brown Hyena (Parahyaena brunnea) is a scruffier-looking and more solitary relative of the spotted hyena. It's confined to the southwest corner of Africa, frequenting areas where its larger cousin is rare or absent.

5 Fascinating Facts

The brown hyena is best known from the arid terrain of the Kalahari and Namib deserts. There it may wander 30 km a night, in search of food.

  1. During confrontations, brown hyenas will raise their long brown mane and fluff out their creamy neck ruff in order to look larger and more intimidating. These features are often damaged or torn off during territorial fights.
  2. Primarily a scavenging carnivore, this resourceful animal will also feed on ostrich eggs and even desert melons.
  3. On Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, the brown hyena has acquired the Afrikaans name strandwolf (beach dog) for its habit of combing the shoreline for dead seals and other food left by the sea.
  4. This versatile species can survive on the edge of suburbia. Lucky visitors may even glimpse one in the Magaliersbug hills north of Pretoria.
  5. Adults mark their territory by ‘pasting’ secretions from their anal gland onto grass stalks. The white blob left behind contains crucial information about each hyena, revealing its identity and when it last passed by. In this way all the hyenas of an area know what the others are up to.

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