Animal diet is influenced by habitat usage, behaviour, morphology and physiology. Understanding predator diet is important because they are able to influence the diversity and abundance of prey species in an ecosystem by means of predation,but also by creating avoidance behaviour on prey species which can affect survivorship negatively.
Generally, larger prey is consumed with a larger predator body size and can be seen where larger bodied predators prefer larger-bodied prey species. Overall predator diet choice is influenced by predator energy requirements, time availability and predation risk of prey.
Environmental cues include prey availability, predation risk, and ambient temperature Other biotic factors such as aswell as prey circadian rhythms. Changes in activity patterns due to the disorders can negatively impact animal fitness by affecting diet and reproduction.
Brown hyenas are primarily scavengers of a wide range of vertebrate remains, supplementing their diet with wild fruits, insects, bird eggs andoccasional small animals that are killed. Of 128 hunts observed in the S Kalahari, only six (4.7%) were successful (including kills of Southern African Springhare Pedetes capensis, Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis lambs, and Bat-eared Fox Otocyon megalotis). Their success rate hunting Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis lambs were only 6% (far lower than Spotted Hyaenas).
Carrion forms the primary component of the diet, particularly from ungulate carcasses. The brown hyena shows a fondness for Struthio ostrich camel eggs.
Average daily consumption rate was calculated as 2.8 kg per day. In the S Kalahari (Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park) the Tsamma melon Citrullus lanatus and Gemsbok 9% of which werekilled by the hyaenas, and also scavenge other marine organisms washed up on the shore.
Brown Hyaenas are mainly nocturnal In the S Kalahari, they were particularly active from about 18:00 to 08:30h during the summer months and from about 16:30 to 06:00h during the winter months. They are strictly solitary gatherers, traveling great distances in search of food.
Food items are often taken back to the den to provision for the young, and bone assemblages have been shown to reflect faunal composition of the area at that time.
The brown hyena is primarily a scavenger of a wide range of vertebrate remains, which is supplemented with wild fruits, insects, bird eggs and sometimes small animals which are killed. In the southern Kalahari vertebrate prey killed by brown hyaenas made up only 4.2% of the food items eaten . Along the Namib Desert coast, it feeds predominantly on Cape fur seal pups, of which only 2.9% were killed by the brown hyena. It also scavenges other marine organisms washed up on the shore.
The brown hyena is a solitary, primarily nocturnal feeder traveling great distances in search of food. Even quite old and dry carcasses can be detected 2 km downwind. Hunting is unspecialised and opportunistic, directed at small animals only and largely unsuccessful.
Striped Hyaena has been reported to consume a wide variety of vertebrates, invertebrates, vegetables, fruit, and human originated organic wastes, as well as discarded livestock carcasses, found remains of prey items in faecal samples that were likely scavenged.
In many areas, Striped Hyaenas have also been described as raiding human graves and carrying away bones. The general reputation of the species is therefore that of an omnivorous scavenger.
In S. Kenya, Striped Hyaenas were regularly observed flushing out, chasing and killing juvenile Grant’s Gazelle Nanger granti . Further, there is strong evidence that small livestock (goats and sheep) and dogs are killed. The Striped Hyaena’s foraging strategy includes both active hunting and scavenging.
The evidence shows that Striped Hyenas in Africa are solitary nocturnal foragers in which fruits and vegetables, when available, can play an important role. Striped hyenas also regularly consume insects, invertebrates, small vertebrates, and actively hunt small mammals and ground-nesting and/or ground-feeding birds. In addition, they collect carcasses of large mammals. It also consumes a wide variety ofvertebrates, invertebrates, vegetables, and fruits, includingthe fruits of Balanites trees, and human-associated organic matter.
Although often considered scavengers, Spotted Hyaenas are effective and flexible hunters. In Kruger, the most important prey items are the Common Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus, African Buffalo Syncerus caffer, Plains Zebra Equus quagga, and Greater Kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros and Impala Aepycerosmelampus; preferred prey are all resident herbivores, namely the Impala, Greater Kudu, and Common Warthog Phacochoerus africanus.
In the Namib Desert, Gemsboks Oryx gazella made up more than 80% of the diet and in Etosha N. P. Springboks Antidorcas marsupialis were most commonly hunted. In the southern Kalahari, the main prey items are gemsboks Wildebeests, and Springboks, followed by Common Eland Tragelaphus oryx and Hartebeest Alcelaphusbuselaphus calves.
In Chobe, they principally hunt migratory Plains Zebras and resident Impalas. In theSerengeti ecosystem and the Ngorongoro Crater, Spotted Hyaenas primarily hunt Common Wildebeests, Thomson’s Gazelles and Plains Zebras. In its northern extension in the Masai Mara, they feed mainly on Topis Damaliscus lunatus and Thomson’s Gazelles when migratory species are absent.
Upon arrival of the migratory herds fromthe Serengeti N. P., they switched to feeding on Common Wildebeests for about three months, until the migratory animals return to the Serengeti N. P. In the Aberdare Mts (Kenya) the dominant prey items are Bushbucks Tragelaphus scriptus, Sunis Nesotragus moschatus and African Buffalo.
In Senegal, they feed mostly onlarge and medium-sized ungulates, with African Buffalo the most frequently consumed prey species. Spotted Hyaenas are opportunistic, occasionally taking largerprey such as Giraffes Giraffa camelopardalis, juveniles of Common Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius, Savanna Elephants Loxodonta africana, and White Rhinoceroses Ceratotherium simum.
They also consume a wide range of small mammal prey, including smallcarnivores and rodents up to the size of spring hares Pedetes spp., as well as other vertebrate prey (such as birds, fish, reptiles), insects,crabs, snails, Ostrich Struthio camelus eggs, fruits and the feces of herbivores, carnivores and omnivores.
Despite being a highly social carnivore that may live in large groups, individuals hunt mostly on their own or in small groups, although one case of mass killings of Thomson’s Gazelles by a group of 19 was recorded in East Africa.
Prey is detected by sight, hearing, and odor, and carrion by smell, the noise of other carnivores feeding, or by watching vultures descending on a carcass. Adult solitary Spotted Hyaenas of around 5–6 years of age can be very efficient hunters, and,in the Masai Mara, are responsible for over 75% of hunting attempts on Common Wildebeest and Topi.
Average adult daily food consumption is estimated at 2.0–4.0 kg/day. An adult Spotted Hyaena can consume approximately 18 kg in one meal, equal to up to one-third of adult body mass. Spotted Hyaena cubs show a remarkable resilience to a lack of a regular supply of food or fluids.
Generally, the spotted hyena hunts alone or in small groups of two to five, although larger groups have been observed. During a hunt, the given indicators ran at a moderate speed through a herd of herds of herds before deciding the indicative case. The spotted hyena stalks its prey over long distances, often several kilometers, at speeds of up to 60 km/h.
Spotted Hyaenas may travel long distances (30–80 km) in search of prey or water. Etosha N. P., migratory movements of main prey species (Springbok,Plains Zebra, Common Wildebeest) to the north-west at the start of the wet season results in a considerable decline in prey density. In response, clans in areas of low prey density follow the migratory herds, thus shifting their activities to the wet season range of the migratory herbivores.
The Spotted Hyaena is an efficient scavenger of carrion, including the kills of other Spotted Hyaenas and other carnivores like Lions, although, in both Masai Mara and the Ngorongoro Crater, Spotted Hyaenas obtained most of their annual intake from hunting rather than scavenging.
Although often portrayed as scavengers, they are highly intelligent, skilled hunters that obtain 50% to 90% of their diet from direct kills. However, they are not picky eaters and will scavenge for food consuming carrion, bones, and vegetables.