The scent-marking behaviour of the spotted hyaena Crocuta crocuta in the southern Kalahari

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Abstract

All hyaenas scent mark their territories by smearing grass stems with paste from their subcaudal scent glands and by depositing faeces at latrines, but they adopt different strategies in terms of how they disperse these scent marks in their territories. For example, brown hyaenas living in the southern Kalahari deposit pastes and latrines throughout the whole of their territory, while spotted hyaenas living in the Ngorongoro Crater of East Africa place their scent marks strictly along the territorial borders. We have argued elsewhere (Gorman & Mills, 1984) that these different strategies are not species-specific but are instead adaptive responses to local conditions. Here, we use data from a population of spotted hyaenas, living in small clans and large territories in the Kalahari, to test the hypothesis that hinterland marking is a response to the problem of marking a very large territory with a limited amount of scent and within a limited time budget.

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