DICE Twitter Conference 2020 (#DICECON20)

1/6 #DICECON20  #hyenamyths Hyenas are among the most vilified, misunderstood mammals. In the media, film, literature, even natural history docs, portrayed as ugly, cowardly, vicious, contemptible. Few positive images https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtiS6oRmwIo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtBTPT8qtgE

2/6 #DICECON20 #hyenamyths Bad image challenged by research. Kruuk, Frank, Mills, Holekamp, Kolowski, Edwards,many others provide foundations of new representation of the 4 species – spotted, striped, brown and aardwolf – as vital parts of the food chain+predator-prey balance.

four hyena species (2)

3/6 #DICECON20 #hyenamyths IUCN action plan: most important challenge facing  the conservation of hyenas is to overcome the very strong negative feelings people have.Until they are viewed in a more positive light it will be difficult to effectively implement management plans

striped hyena in trap

4/6 #DICECON20 #hyenamyths

  • History of bush burial in east/southern Africa; Hyenas do eat human remains; Link with death leads to occult role; Seen as witches’ servants; Persecution, fear, use in magic; Sale of hyena body parts; Killed for muti

Hyena Muti

5/6 #DICECON20 #hyenamyths  My research on history and current nature of human-hyena relations looks at basis of the image of hyenas, how myths arose and how they have evolved. Myth-busting and accurate depiction vital to getting public support for conservation.

medieval bestiary hyyena eating body



6/6 #DICECON20 #hyenamyths Complex, social animals. Vital in ecosystems as hunters and scavengers of carrion. By consuming diseased animals they prevent spread of diseases. Brown hyena clans help in raising cubs, even if the mothers die. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFjK-QXi_qU