Brown Hyaena
Brown Hyaena

Average Mass:
50 kg (110 lb)

Average Shoulder Height:
75 cm (29")

Rowland Ward:


Brown Hyaena Spoor

Track: 85mm (3 3/8") x 70mm (2 7/8")

Brown Hyena Distribution

Very rare. The population is in continues decline although the race is one of the most protected.

Except for a marginal extension in south-western Angola , the brown hyaena is restricted to the Southern African subregion, ranging in Botswana , Mozambique , Namibia , and Zimbabwe . Its occurrence in South Africa is limited to Orange Free State , Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Cape Province , while in Natal it has been reintroduced (Skinner & Smithers, 1990). Its distribution map was taken from Skinner & Smithers (1990), then updated on the basis of Mills (1982b) and revised by Dr. M. G. L. Mills (25 March ‘97).

Brown hyaenas are smaller than spotted hyaenas at around 40kg when adult. There is little difference in size between the male and female. The average shoulder height is 75cm. Brown hyaenas are distinct with strong and long front legs and the back slopping down to fairly weak hind legs. They have long, shaggy coats, which are brown or black apart from around the neck and shoulders which is white. Their undersides are a lighter colour and they have white stripes on their front and back feet and legs. Their ears are long and pointed.
Brown hyaena are fairly solitary animal and mainly active at night. They have an excellent sense of smell which assists them in finding carrion. They have very powerful jaws and large, strong teeth for crunching through bone.

Categorical-discrete (CD) distribution model

This species occurs in arid areas such as semi-desert and desert, but also in woodlands (Skinner & Smithers, 1990; Skinner, 1976; Lynch, 1983).

Did you know?

  • Brown hyenas avoid areas dominated by spotted hyenas?
  • They frequent commercial farmland around the Suikerbosrand Reserve, 20 minutes drive from Johannesburg CBD, usually unnoticed at night in urban trash dumps.
  • On the Namib Skeleton coast their staple diet is seals.
  • Only one female in the social group breeds, with nomadic males from outside the clan.
  • Known for their anal gland territorial secretions, leaving white and black marks on grass stems every few hundred yards.
  • Brown hyenas can detect carrion from 10 miles downwind!