Status of Striped Hyaena (Hyaena hyaena) in Hatay and Şanlıurfa-Turkey
Keywords:Striped hyena, Hyaena hyaena, ecology, cytochrome oxidase b, DNA barcoding
AbstractIn the present work, an 18 month survey, involving face to face interviews with the local people and deployment camera-traps, was carried out on about 600 km2 areas in Turkey. Field surveys and camera-trapping resulted in strong evidences that striped hyenas travel and live around Hatay (Syria border) and Şanlıurfa Provinces in Turkey. However, a comprehensive study was not carried out about the status of striped hyenas in this region. Our results showed that striped hyenas were frequently observed around the wasteland and the chicken farm in Hatay Province. Alternatively, they live in small groups in Şanlıurfa Province. Several caves suitable for striped hyenas were identified by footprints, feces and other animal remnants observed in and before those caves. We performed molecular characterization of striped hyenas in Turkey for the first time using Cytb mitochondrial DNA isolated from hair, ear and carcass tissues. Sequences of Cytb DNA sequences from10 different striped hyena samples from Turkey were found to be identical to each other. Comparison of the sequences with the previously reported Cytb sequences, including prehistoric ones, showed that Ctyb gene was highly conserved among the Hyaena hyaena species. During the field surveys we also observed that habitat destruction and fragmentation are detected on high level in the studied regions due to the intensive agricultural areas, settlements and quarries. Illegal hunting, frequent cave usage by shepherds, extensive porcupines hunting, water pollution from olive oil production facilities and highway crashes have been negatively affecting striped hyena population in Hatay and Şanlıurfa regions. It appears that a comprehensive study and protection plan should be exerted to preserve the habitat of striped hyenas.
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