oa African Zoology - Social relationships and dispersal patterns in a clan of spotted byaenas Crocuta crocuta in the Kruger National Park

Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



Membership, social relationships and dispersal were recorded for all members of one clan of spotted hyaenas, Crocuta crocuta, in the Kruger National Park over a period of 27 months. The clan comprised females, cubs, and three social classes of males: resident natal males, peripheral immigrant males and central immigrant males. Although a linear dominance hierarchy was recorded under all circumstances, it was most strongly expressed at food. Females were philopatric and maintained a network of amicable relationships with each other and their offspring. Social dominance assured them priority of access to carcasses, so that they obtained a high proportion of meat. Males left their natal clans and attempted to join neighbouring clans, where they were initially treated as territorial intruders, but could eventually gain membership albeit with low social status, lowest feeding priority at carcasses and precarious social relationships. An immigrant male that maintained close attendance on females became a central immigrant and gained unrivalled breeding status. The segregation of a clan into co-operative relatives and subordinate immigrants assures an optimal distribution of resources.

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