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SPOTTED HYENAThe spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) usually encountered on Uganda safari is also referred to as laughing hyena belongs to the species of hyena which apparently is considered as the only member of the genus Crocuta that thrives in the Sub Saharan region of Africa. Belonging to Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia, Order Carnivora, Family Hyaenidae, Sub family Hyaeninae, Genus Crocuta and Species Crocuta crocuta, Spotted Hyena is considered as least concerned by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its wide spread distribution with numbers in between 27,000 and 47,000 though these numbers are plummeting outside protected areas due to poaching and habitat loss.
The Spotted Hyena is considered to have originated from Asia and once traversed the areas of Europe approximately one million years ago towards the end of the Late Pleistocene. This species is considered to be the largest of the family Hyaenidae and is distinct from others by its vaguely bear-like build, less prominent mane, rounded ears, spotted pelt, dual purpose dentition, fewer nipples and pseudo-penis presence in the female. What is interesting about these species encountered on Uganda safari tour is that it is the only mammalian species not having exterior vaginal opening.
The spotted hyena is considered as the great social element among all the carnivores and due to this it has got largest group sizes which is the most social of the Carnivora in that it has the largest group sizes and social behavior that is complex related to that of cercopithecine primates like baboons which are also seen while on safari in Uganda. This social setting depicts great Spirit of competition other than being cooperative in terms of accessibility to kills, opportunities for mating and dispersal times males regarding clan dominancy. Females only cater for their cubs other than caring for others while the males do not offer any kind of assistance to the young ones.
The spotted hyena is considered as a successful animal with the reputation of being the large common carnivore on the African continent and its success can be attributed to its opportunism and adaptability. The spotted hyena can hunt but also can scavenge with the ability to consume and digest the skin, bone and any other animal matter. In fact, the spotted hyenas make the great efficient use of animal matter compared to all other African carnivores. In Uganda, spotted hyenas are widely distributed in range and present in almost all savannah protected areas of Uganda which are always included on the lists of travellers planning safaris to Uganda.
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