Spotted hyaenas were once a common species in most of sub-Saharan Africa, but now have a patchy distribution south of the Sahara.
Until very recently, spotted hyaenas were a common species in most of sub-Saharan Africa. Through the end of the Pleistocene, spotted hyaenas ranged throughout Eurasia. The reasons for the hyaena’s extinction there are not certain.
Today, spotted hyaenas are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, south of the Sahara, and are relatively widely distributed. Their current distribution is patchy, especially in West and Central Africa, with populations often concentrated in protected areas. High densities occur in the Serengeti and especially the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania.
More continuous distributions persist over large areas of Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Angola, Namibia, and parts of South Africa. Since 1970, spotted hyaenas have been reported to still be widespread in Djibouti and Gambia. Long-term studies on spotted hyaenas and recent surveys have confirmed their presence in Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, The Republic of Congo, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
In Eritrea, spotted hyaenas have not or only very rarely been sighted until 2007, but they are now regularly sighted throughout the country. It is thus likely that spotted hyaenas established a small population in Eritrea. Spotted hyaenas may occasionally enter Gabon from The Republic of Congo but there is no evidence to suggest that there is a resident population in Gabon.
The species has been reported as extinct in Algeria where they may have occurred in the Ahaggar and Tassili d’Ajjer. There is also no confirmed evidence of
their occurrence in Egypt, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Tunisia, or Morocco, and no recent records from Togo.
Only occasional animals are seen in the forests of Mount Kenya as they have been extirpated from most areas of South Africa.
• Image | © Joanne Goldby, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-SA 2.0)
• Sources | (Bohm & Höner, Grubb, et al., 1998; 2015; East & Hofer, 2010; Henschel, et al., 2014; Hofer & Mills, 1998a; Holekamp & Dloniak, 2010; Höner, et al., 2012; Kingdon, 1977; Law, 2005; Nowak, 1999)