Researcher: Dr. Ingrid Wiesel
Region: Namib Desert, Namibia
The Namib Desert seems too harsh to bear life, but in fact a large variety of fauna and flora inhabit this challenging environment, particularly the coastal area where large mammals are supported by the rich marine life of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the brown hyena feeds almost exclusively on Cape fur seal pups of the mainland seal colonies. Since there are no other large predators, this small, shy animal is in fact the top predator of the area. As such, it also comes into conflict with humans.
The Namib Desert Brown Hyaena Project, founded in 1997, therefore sets out to study this unique predator-prey ecosystem between hyena and seal, in the coastal areas of Restricted Diamond Area No.1 (Sperrgebiet).
To monitor such elusive and ecologically unique animals needs sophisticated equipment, and the Trust’s contribution has gone towards the GPS telemetry projects. Over the past year, several hyaena have been collared, tracked, and monitored, adding to the knowledge of population densities, distribution and habits. Camera traps were set up, which after some modification and moving of the site finally caught sight of three hyena. The Project reported the road death of a brown hyaena known as “Dollar” and as a result, Namdeb Diamond Corporation offered to sponsor Wildlife Warning signs along the road between Luderitz to Aus; hopefully this will prevent some of the wildlife-related accidents on the road.
By researching the brown hyena in its natural habitat, solutions can hopefully be created for the long-term conservation and survival of free-ranging hyaena and its fragile habitat.