For the past few months we have been working together with Carnivore Research Malawi (CRM) to relocate some urban hyaenas in Lilongwe. The reason behind the move is that some of the wild hyaenas in the capital had become somewhat of a pest in particular areas and in order to decrease any threat towards them, we collectively decided it was best to move them to a more suitable area; Liwonde National Park, where there is little chance of any human-wildlife conflict.
Hyaenas are not small animals, nor are they easy to catch. They are nocturnal, extremely shy and can reach up to 90kg, so we were working in the dark and needed plenty of manpower! Using knowledge of urban hyaenas from Carnivore Research Malawi, our vet Dr Amanda Salb, who is professionally trained in game capture, set to work with bait and her trusty dart gun for several nights of surveillance. The first two hyaenas were caught back in August and have since remained in an enclosure at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. They are kept well away from the public eye as they are highly elusive and, being wild animals in an unknown environment, are susceptible to a great deal of stress.
We have just captures two more urban hyaenas from the same area and we are now confident that the four of them together are a strong enough clan to make for a successful release. We plan to release them in January, so watch this space!
Find out more about the joint carnivore project here