|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|This photograph was taken while panning. My second upload taken at a distance of 56.7 meters of the Etosha National Park Hyenas December 2012. I came upon two lone Hyenas basking in the sun just past 07:00am. After letting me get some good shots of them laying down, they got up exited and started trotting towards a dense bush ± 1km from where we were. As they passed my vehicle I managed to pan this shot. I followed them and to my surprise I noticed more Hyenas from different locations on the plain going to the same bush. From there-on the pack became my main focus for the next few days. If I was a bit late due to visiting another area in Etosha, I drove to the specific area about 10:00am and called the whole pack (with Hyaena calls) from their den and just photographed away.|
I hope you enjoy this photograph and would appreciate honest comments/critiques.
The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), also known as the laughing hyena or tiger wolf, is a species of hyena native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN on account of its widespread range and large numbers estimated between 27,000 and 47,000 individuals. The species is however experiencing declines outside of protected areas due to habitat loss and poaching. The species may have originated in Asia, and once ranged throughout Europe for at least one million years until the end of the Late Pleistocene. The spotted hyena is the largest member of the Hyaenidae, and is further physically distinguished from other species by its vaguely bear-like build, its rounded ears, its less prominent mane, its spotted pelt, its more dual purposed dentition, its fewer nipples and the presence of a pseudo-penis in the female. It is the only mammalian species to lack an external vaginal opening.
The spotted hyena is the most social of the Carnivora in that it has the largest group sizes and most complex social behaviours. Its social organisation is unlike that of any other Carnivore, bearing closer resemblance to that of cercopithecine primates (baboons and macaques) with respect to group-size, hierarchical structure, and frequency of social interaction among both kin and unrelated group-mates. However, the social system of the spotted hyena is openly competitive rather than cooperative, with access to kills, mating opportunities and the time of dispersal for males depending on the ability to dominate other clan-members. Females provide only for their own cubs rather than assist each other, and males display no paternal care. Spotted hyena society is matriarchal; females are larger than males, and dominate them.
The spotted hyena is a highly successful animal, being the most common large carnivore in Africa. Its success is due in part to its adaptability and opportunism; it is both an efficient hunter and a scavenger, with the capacity to eat and digest skin, bone and other animal waste. In functional terms, the spotted hyena makes the most efficient use of animal matter of all African carnivores. The spotted hyena displays greater plasticity in its hunting and foraging behaviour than other African carnivores; it hunts alone, in small parties of 2–5 individuals or in large groups. During a hunt, spotted hyenas often run through ungulate herds in order to select an individual to attack. Once selected, their prey is chased over long distance, often several kilometres, at speeds of up to 60 km/h.
The spotted hyena has a long history of interaction with humanity; depictions of the species exist from the Upper Paleolithic period, with carvings and paintings from the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves. The species has a largely negative reputation in both Western culture and African folklore. In the former, the species is mostly regarded as ugly and cowardly, while in the latter, it is viewed as greedy, gluttonous, stupid, and foolish, yet powerful and potentially dangerous. The majority of Western perceptions on the species can be found in the writings of Aristotle and Pliny the Elder, though in relatively unjudgemental form. Explicit, negative judgements occur in the Physiologus, where the animal is depicted as a hermaphrodite and grave robber. The IUCN's hyena specialist group identifies the spotted hyena's negative reputation as detrimental to the species' continued survival, both in captivity and the wild.
Etymology, discovery and naming
The spotted hyena's scientific name Crocuta, was once widely thought to be derived from the Latin loanword crocutus, which translates as "saffron-coloured one", in reference to the animal's fur colour. This was proven to be incorrect, as the correct spelling of the loanword would have been Crocāta, and the word was never used in that sense by Graeco-Roman sources. Crocuta actually comes from the Greek word Κροκόττας (Krokottas), which is derived from the Sanskrit koṭṭhâraka, which in turn originates from kroshṭuka (both of which were originally meant to signify the golden jackal). The earliest recorded mention of Κροκόττας is from Strabo's Geographica, where the animal is described as a mix of wolf and dog native to Ethiopia.
Engraving of a spotted hyena from Thomas Pennant's History of Quadrupeds, one of the first authentic depictions of the species
From antiquity till the Renaissance, the spotted and striped hyena were either assumed to be the same species, or distinguished purely on geographical, rather than physical grounds. Hiob Ludolf, in his Historia aethiopica, was the first to clearly distinguish the Crocuta from Hyaena on account of physical, as well as geographical grounds, though he never had any first hand experience of the species, having gotten his accounts from an Ethiopian intermediary. Confusion still persisted over the exact taxonomic nature of the hyena family in general, with most European travelers in Ethiopia referring to hyenas as "wolves". This partly stems from the Amharic word for hyena, ጅብ (djibb), which derives from the Arabic word ذئب (dhi'b), meaning "wolf".
The first detailed first-hand descriptions of the spotted hyena by Europeans come from Willem Bosman and Peter Kolben. Bosman, a Dutch tradesman who worked for the Dutch West India Company at the Gold Coast (modern day Ghana) from 1688–1701, wrote of "Jakhals, of Boshond" (jackals or woodland dogs) whose physical descriptions match the spotted hyena. Kolben, a German mathematician and astronomer who worked for the Dutch East India Company in the Cape of Good Hope from 1705–1713, described the spotted hyena in great detail, but referred to it as a "Tigerwolf", because the settlers in southern Africa did not know of hyenas, and thus labelled them as "wolves".
Bosman and Kolben's descriptions went largely unnoticed until in 1771, when the Welsh naturalist Thomas Pennant, in his Synopsis of Quadrupeds, used the descriptions, as well as his personal experience with a captive specimen, as a basis for consistently differentiating the spotted hyena from the striped. The description given by Pennant was precise enough to be included by Johann Erxleben in his Systema regni animalis by simply translating Pennant's text into Latin. Crocuta was finally recognised as a separate genus from Hyaena in 1828.
Local and indigenous names
Several languages of Africa lack species specific names for hyenas: for example, the spotted and striped species have identical names in Dioula, Swahili, Malinké, Mňoré, Ngambaye, Oulof and Fula. In other languages, other species may simply be termed "small spotted hyena", such as in Swahili, where the spotted hyena is termed fisi and the aardwolf fisi ndogo.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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