The Hyena Pages
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Why a Web site for hyenas?

Wolves have plenty of sites devoted to them on the Web. Hyenas are at least as interesting as wolves. But back in 1995, when dinosaurs walked the earth and I had just gotten into this Internet thingee at my university, I looked for info on my favorite animal. There was none, so I ended up researching and putting it up myself.

Until the 1970s, spotted hyenas were misunderstood. People thought of them as "cowardly" scavengers (they kill most of their own food, and can take a carcass from a whole pride of lionesses). Male dominance was supposed to be a law of nature (spotted hyenas, like many animals, are female-dominant). Zoologists had almost no interest in them (actually, they raise interesting, important questions that scientists are just beginning to answer).

Spotted hyenas have important things to teach us -- about why mammals become social in the first place, the reasons for male and female dominance in different species, even how sex hormones work. And they have three relatives who are equally interesting in their own right: striped hyenas, brown hyenas, and aardwolves (who aren't wolves at all).

I'll finish up with a couple of quotes from the Hyaena Specialist Group's "Action Plan Summary":

Perhaps the most important challenge facing those of us committed to the conservation of this group of animals is to overcome the very strong negative feelings many people have towards hyaenas. Until they are viewed in a more positive light it will be difficult to effectively implement management plans for hyaenas.

Note to readers: Before you email me your questions, please read the FAQ, check the links to other sites and learn to look for scientific papers on the Web. Also, look at some books in a library, such as Walker's Mammals of the World or Grzmek's Animal Encyclopedia. Remember to ask your librarian about the Zoological Index as well, so you can look up scientific papers. In other words, do a little research on your own. I'm not a scientifically accredited hyena expert, I just run a Web site on the beasties.