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Socioecology of a high-density brown hyaena population within an enclosed reserve

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Understanding the spatial ecology of wildlife is an essential prerequisite for making informed management decisions and is of particular importance for those species residing in enclosed reserves where space use may be influenced by restricted dispersal and high population densities. As the brown hyaena Parahyaena brunnea is a species likely to increasingly rely on enclosed protected areas for its long-term persistence, due to the intense persecution experienced outside of protected areas, we examined the spatial ecology of 10 brown hyaenas from a high-density population, within a small (200 km2) enclosed reserve in north-central Namibia. Spatial data, in combination with camera trap data from communal den sites, suggested six clans and at least one nomadic individual in the reserve. A mean home range size of 37 km2 (± 21 km2, range 16–97 km2) was recorded, with 92% of the reserve utilized as brown hyaena home range. Whilst these home range sizes are some of the lowest recorded for brown hyaena, the degree of overlap between neighbouring clans was similar to that recorded for open systems. Given that the majority of the reserve is utilized as brown hyaena home range, options for dispersing subadults may be limited and these individuals may represent ideal candidates for translocation into other enclosed reserves as part of metapopulation management schemes.

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We would like to thank the Namibian Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust and Okonjima Lodges CC for sponsoring the equipment used within this study. We also thank Varta Consumer Batteries Namibia and AfriCat UK for their support. The study was conducted under the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology permit RCIV00032017.

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Correspondence to Sarah Edwards.

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Communicated by: Marietjie Landman

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Edwards, S., Noack, J., Heyns, L. et al. Socioecology of a high-density brown hyaena population within an enclosed reserve. Mamm Res 65, 223–233 (2020).

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