Thank you for following and supporting Earthwatch’s South Africa’s Hyenas research expedition. After nine enlightening years of data collection, Dr. Dawn Scott will be concluding her research on South Africa’s scavengers this summer, and will begin a new study this fall on effective protection and management strategies for South Africa’s highly endangered rhinos.
As South Africa’s Hyenas draws to a close, we are pleased to share some highlights from the final season:
This research focused on several key objectives:
We are proud to say that all objectives have been met. Over the years, the South Africa's Hyenas expedition has informed many papers, contributed to multiple PhD degrees, inspired countless volunteers, influenced local management policies, and will continue to serve as a guide to landowners on more effective ways to live with carnivores and scavengers. Several more papers are scheduled to be published in 2015, and there will be a new International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) species assessment for brown hyenas that will draw from the significant body of information amassed over the last decade.
Thank you again for your steady support of this project. None of these accomplishments would have been possible without caring and committed donors like you!
Heather WilcoxDirector of Annual Giving & Advancement Serviceshwilcox@earthwatch.org978-450-1208
P.S. If you’d like more information about Dr. Scott’s upcoming research on Conserving Endangered Rhinos in South Africa, please follow the link to the expedition page, below.
Thank you for supporting and following along with Earthwatch’s hyena conservation efforts in South Africa! Dr. Dawn Scott and her team will resume their research in Pilanesberg National Park with the help of Earthwatch volunteers from May – November 2015. In the meantime, I’m pleased to share with you now some preliminary highlights from the 2014 data.
In addition to informing Dr. Scott’s research, papers and information collected are also submitted to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) hyena specialist group to aid international dissemination and species assessment.
None of this data collection would be possible without the ongoing support you provide as a concerned conservationist. On behalf of our scientists, volunteers and staff, thank you again for all that you do for Earthwatch and for hyena rescue. We look forward to sharing more results and updates after the 2015 fielding season begins in May!
Heather Wilcox Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services P.S. Remember, you don’t just have to read about this research from afar… you can participate in it directly as a volunteer! Our 2015 teams are still accepting volunteers. Visit South Africa’s Hyenas to learn more about daily life in the field as a biologist, or to reserve your spot as a volunteer today!
Thank you for following Earthwatch’s hyena conservation program in South Africa! With your support, Dr. Dawn Scott and her team have just concluded their ninth year of research in the African savannah, to the northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Since our last report, another 13 teams of 95 total volunteers have joined Dr. Scott in the field to collect data on hyenas and other scavenger species, which are often misunderstood but play crucially important roles in maintaining overall ecosystem health by sustaining biodiversity and reducing disease. People tend to regard scavengers with disdain and subject them to harmful treatment. Only small regions of South Africa are protected, so most scavengers live in unprotected areas where they are subject to persecution. The loss of these species could have serious consequences for the surrounding ecosystems.
Fewer than 1,700 free-ranging brown hyenas remain in South Africa. To ensure their survival, we must understand the ecology of wildlife in unprotected compared with protected areas. Under Dr. Scott’s guidance, Earthwatch volunteers will try to answer these questions by:
Dr. Scott will resume her research in 2015 from May – November with another four teams of 14 Earthwatch volunteers each. We are very excited to be able to watch this project and its data unfold for another year, knowing that the information we collect is helping to protect the brown hyena from further decline.
Thank you again for your interest in and support of South Africa’s Hyenas. Progress like this could never be possible without the generosity of passionate conservationists like YOU.
Wishing you a festive holiday and a healthy, happy and sustainable new year!
Heather WilcoxDirector of Annual Giving & Advancement Services
Have questions about your donations, or about this report? Want more information about Earthwatch's hyenas conservation efforts? Email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Global Giving Supporters,
Wow, what a year! Seven full teams, fielding forty-seven volunteers from all over the world, spent endless hours looking for scat, spotlighting until late at night and pulling smelly guts to camera traps, their efforts are supported by your donations and are greatly appreciated by all the scientists involved--and especially by the special scavengers that are often forgotten. This year volunteers also spotted the back footed cat, which is of conservation concern andhas not been recorded in the region for a while.
We covered over 800km of spotlighting, completed 50 camera trap locations and covered 265km of latrine surveys, recording 570 hyena and 330 jackal latrines. The dung beetle team recorded 45 different species and collected over 1015 individuals! Analysis of the radio-tracking data from the vultures' collars has been showing just how far these birds go, with journeys from South Africa to Namibia and very little use of protected areas, so that is providing essential data on the ecology and conservation of these species. Other highlights for us and the volunteers have been the school education days: we had about 250 school children visit us this year and we know volunteers, staff, and students get a lot out of their visits and we hope to continue this community involvement to improve the hyenas and other scavengers' local reputations.
Our latest publication, accepted by Biological Conservation, gives some indication of the number of carnivores killed each year in the area. Overall 67% of farmers use lethal control of carnivores. From 99 farmers' records of control we estimated the number of carnivores killed in the province are around 18,476 jackals, 699 Caracalla, 275 leopards,137 cheetahs,and 55 brown hyenas. These figures represent 6% of estimated leopard numbers in South Africa’s 10 main sub-populations, 34% of estimated free-ranging cheetah numbers outside of protected areas, and 3% of estimated total population size for brown hyenas in South Africa.
The effect that reported destruction rates have on the conservation status and sustainability of the many species is difficult to infer because of a lack of reliable, contemporary population estimates and local demographic data. However, brown hyenas occur within a restricted distribution range in the South West Arid Zone of Southern Africaand the estimated global population comprises <10,000 mature individuals. A 10% population decline over three generations would cause brown hyenas to be re-classified as Vulnerable. Therefore, an annual provincial destruction rate of 3% of the national population could constitute a serious threat to the species. Our research this past year, made possible by your support, helped gather this data which can now shine a greater light on this threat.
In addition, the data we've gathered on hyena genetics this year will help to enhance genetic diversity. We've assessed the importance and size of the population at Pilanesberg National Park to ensure incorporation into future management plans to maintain this population.
We work regularly with at least ten different landowners in the area for monitoring and have had connections via questionnaires and surveys with more than 200 nationally and locally. We provide research talks to Northwest area parks so that we can highlight the results of the project and attend national conferences and forums on wildlife management.
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