Brown Hyena Project in Namibia, led by Dr. Kirk Suedmeyer, Director of Animal Health, is studying the distribution and density of this species as well as providing health assessments to help determine the conservation status of the brown hyena and other animals in Southern Namibia’s Sperrgebiet National Park.
Brown hyenas are the apex predator along the Northern Skeleton coast and the Southern Diamond coast of Namibia. Their population status is unknown. Diamond mining along the coastline may impact their conservation status which the Brown Hyena Research Project is helping the Namibian government to determine. The Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium is the only zoo participating in darting and collaring brown hyenas for the project. While the hyenas are asleep, their health can be assessed and anesthetic evaluations are done for future research. Increased knowledge of their distribution, home range, physiologic normal, and anesthetic response helps better manage the wild populations and the few animals in captivity. Our initial work has resulted in the Namibian government setting aside a Brown Hyena Protected Area. A government setting aside an area to protect a species before it becomes endangered is a significant conservation accomplishment.