Hyenas aren’t the most popular animals. Sometimes they kill people’s livestock. They are also thought of as scavengers, with some unappealing eating behaviour. Then there’s their cackling “laugh” and their physical looks, less graceful in some eyes than other large predators like lions or leopards.
But there’s a more positive side to these often misunderstood creatures. In Mekelle, a town in northern Ethiopia, research has exposed and quantified the economic and health benefits that spotted hyenas bring to the community. Every year, they consume over 200 tons of waste in and around Mekelle.
The research also ran some disease transmission models. It found that by eating discarded carcasses, the hyenas are reducing the potential spread of diseases like anthrax and bovine tuberculosis. That’s a service to people and other animals, and saves some disease treatment and control costs.
In today’s episode of Pasha, biology student Chinmay Sonawane and wildlife conservation researcher Neil Carter take us through their findings on the benefits that spotted hyenas provide to the people of Mekelle.
Photo “Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), also known as the laughing hyena.” Photo by Vladimir Wrangel found on Shutterstock.
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