One of the two brown hyenas who were collared as part of Katy Williams’s PhD studies. She is desperately in need of help from land owners at this stage to help her find the two hyenas to retrieve the tracking information from the collars. Photo supplied.

Help needed in tracking region's brown hyenas

Date: 18 April 2013 By: Andries van Zyl

Viewed: 892

A PhD student studying brown hyenas in and around the Soutpansberg Mountain needs readers’ urgent help.

Very little is known about brown hyenas in the region and this research, which incorporates both the biological and social sciences, will offer insights into the relationships between people and brown hyenas. Readers can help the research in three ways, namely by being interviewed, by sharing camera-trap photos of collared brown hyenas, and if they have an aircraft, by flying over the mountains to locate collared animals.

Katy Williams, who works with the Durham University Primate and Predator Project, based at Lajuma Research Centre, is completing her PhD degree. Her studies will take about three years and the data collected will improve the knowledge of the species and suggest better ways for humans and elusive carnivores such as brown hyenas to coexist.   

Williams said she would like to speak with landowners and managers living in and around the Soutpansberg Mountain about wildlife.

“The interviews, which last about 30 minutes and can be conducted in English or Afrikaans, discuss experiences and perceptions of hyenas and any problems people may have with hyenas. If you would like to be interviewed and share your thoughts, please contact me,” said Williams.

In late February and early March 2013, two brown hyenas were collared to determine ecological information on the species. However, because of brown hyenas’ large home ranges and secretive nature, William has been unable to relocate the collared individuals.

“If you have a camera trap on your property and you take any photos of collared brown hyenas from February this year onwards, please let me know. This information will be extremely valuable to find out where the animals are moving,” said Williams.

In order to download GPS data from the collars, Williams needs to be within about two kilometres of the hyenas. She has been driving across properties in the mountains, looking for the hyenas at night and has been sleeping out in a tent near where they were caught, but sadly to no avail so far.

“If you have a small aircraft which can fly after dark and a pilot’s license, I would love to hire you for an evening flight to cover more ground while I try to radio track the animals,” said Williams.  

Williams can be contacted via email at Unfortunately, there is no or poor cell phone reception in the area where she is working.




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Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.



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