Review of the global research on Hyaenidae and implications for conservation and management

Christine E. Wilkinson, Arjun Dheer, Theresa Zett, Miquel Torrents-Ticó, Richard W. Yarnell, Einat Bar Ziv, Shivish Bhandari, Andrew Jacobson, Stephanie M. Dloniak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite the ecological importance of the four extant species of Hyaenidae, and the threats they face globally, there has been no review of the nearly 100 years of published research on hyaenas, nor has there been a synthesis of management-related literature regarding these species. We reviewed 907 studies on Hyaenidae, summarized broad temporal, geographic and topical trends, and evaluated findings from management-related research to determine ways forward for hyaena conservation management. Since the first known study in 1939, most have focused on spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta; 75% of all studies), yet overall publications for Hyaenidae have increased by 372% in recent decades. Only 44 of the 67 hyaena range states were represented across publications, with nearly half of all studies conducted in Kenya (18%), South Africa (16%) and Tanzania (13%). Twenty-eight countries had fewer than five studies. Ecology and diet were the most-studied topic areas. The least-studied topics were disease and physiology. Studies on human–hyaena interactions were highly variable in topic, with infrastructure impacts and Hyaenidae benefits to people covered the least. All species were reported to have consumed anthropogenic diet items. Mortality data were included within 11% of publications, with 79% of recorded hyaena mortality constituting anthropogenic causes, although there were few targeted studies on the subject. Lastly, 12% of publications involved community engagement in their methods. There is a significant bias among species, topics and range states across Hyaenidae studies, and little data explicitly related to human–hyaena coexistence. Our management-focused synthesis suggests that research on Hyaenidae could better reflect large carnivore conservation and management inquiry by increasing studies focused on human interactions with Hyaenidae. To address research gaps and inform Hyaenidae management, we recommend increasing applied research outside of protected areas and using interdisciplinary, community-involved methods to increase foundational knowledge on understudied hyaena species, habitats and locations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-212
Number of pages20
JournalMammal Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024


  • carnivore ecology
  • human-wildlife interactions
  • hyaena
  • synthesis
  • threats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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