Hyenas have long inhabited the rugged terrain of Uttar Pradesh, but with rapid urbanisation and agricultural expansion, their population is struggling to find a foothold in the shrinking habitats. Increased anthropogenic pressure coupled with the expansion of agricultural land has led to the depletion of the hyena’s natural territory and prey base. Consequently, they end up in close quarters with humans in their search for easily available prey such as poultry and livestock.
Recently, a Hyena was seen making its way towards Nagla Jairam village located near Agra-Gwalior highway. Though not wholly unaccustomed to the occasional visit from these elusive animals, especially during the night, the hyena’s close proximity to the village sent out a wave of panic. The villagers decided to take matters into their own hands by attempting to chase the animal away, It was understandable for the hyena to be stressed and scared as well and it rushed to seek refuge inside a culvert along the highway.
However, chances of the animal returning to the village still posed a potential threat in the minds of the people so they reached out to the forest department who then contacted our team in Agra for their assistance.
Five of our highly trained rescuers rushed to the location with a team of forest officers. A quick peek inside the narrow culvert with the help of torch lights confirmed the hyena’s position. Despite the years of experience on our hands, our rescuers always take into consideration the possible risks and challenges while conducting such rescue operations. Taking a more careful approach, we decided to use food bait to lure the hyena into a trap cage. The first step was to block one side of the culvert and then placing the trap cage on the other end. After almost two hours of waiting, the hyena finally emerged from its temporary refuge, walking directly into the cage. Once it was safely out, the hyena was transferred to the Wildlife SOS facility for medical examination.
The day’s ordeal had been quite stressful on the animal who had been identified as a young male. Our team immediately provided oral rehydration solutions and glucose water to help the animal regain his strength. After a few days under observation and care, the hyena was deemed fit enough to return to the great outdoors.
Incidents such as this have become far too common in recent times. Wildlife SOS assists the UP Forest Department in rescue operations and to conduct awareness programs in conflict-prone areas in the state. Such efforts go a long way in mitigating man-animal conflict and promoting co-existence.
The Striped hyena is the only species of Hyena that is found in the Indian subcontinent and are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Their estimated population is under 10,000 and are classified as ‘Near Threatened’ in the IUCN Red List.
Major threats to hyenas in India include man-animal conflict, poisoning, habitat destruction, hunting and poaching for body parts. Their skin is illegally traded and body parts are used in traditional medicine. The striped hyena is an underrated species that definitely deserves more conservation attention as the survival of this species is crucial for the survival of a healthy, well-balanced ecosystem.