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Protecting Malawi's Urban Hyaenas
Malawi is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Lilongwe City (the capital of Malawi) has a good network of green spaces, wetlands and river corridors, supporting a diverse array of species including spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta), jackal (Canis adustus), serval (Leptilaurus serval). However, human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is frequent and results in extermination and animal control. Hyaena’s are shot, snared, poisoned and stoned to death.


We have been working to conserve carnivores and particularly spotted hyaena with our partners and stakeholders in Malawi since 2011. We work to educate people about carnivores and biodiversity conservation throughout Malawi through our Urban Hyaena Project, Carnivore Outreach and Helpline Programme and our Capacity Building Programme.


Using our expertise in carnivore conservation and research we are building capacity for staff from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Malawi (DNPW), Lilongwe City Council (LCC), and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).


Our Conservation Work




wildlife assistance helpline


human wildlife conflict mitigation


den monitoring & protection




Unfortunately, our focal hyaenas encounter man-made threats in and
around the city, such as snares. We monitor our resident clans extensively
through camera traps and therefore can respond immediately once
we detect a possible snare. 
In September 2022, we called in the help of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust's 
Wildlife Emergency Response Unit to tranquilize a hyaena of the urban clan that looked like it had a snare around its neck and jaw. Thanks to collaborations such as these the urban hyaena clan is protected and continues to stay healthy.

In the past we have successfully removed snares from a female hyaena's neck and from a young male's foot. We have also had to amputate one hyaena's hind foot due to the consequences of a snare.


hyaena translocation project




In rural Malawi, spotted hyaenas are suffering from extensive habitat loss due to the rapid transformation of any unprotected wild areas into agricultural land. Furthermore, this habitat loss results in a loss of prey, which causes hyaenas to turn their heads to livestock in rural villages. This regular depredation is source of many conflicts between hyaenas clans and local populations which sometimes leads to their hunting down by villagers.

CRM is working in villages around the country to mitigate the human-wildlife conflict. Our aim is to protect the rural clans as well as the local populations by providing advice and support to protect themselves and their livestock. By visiting the villages and conducting interviews with locals whom have lost their livestock, we assess the situation and come up with tailored advice on their facilities and kraal to make them predator-proof.

With our partner, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), we are also looking at the long-term solution to rehabilitate the land where possible to allow the coming back of prey.

Download hyaena advice leaflets below by clicking the pdf icons.  here (Chichewa Version)

HWC leaflet EN V2.jpg
HWC leaflet EN V2-2.jpg

DEN MONITORING & protection

Wildlife Assistance Helpline

Before calling the Helpline, please read the advice to see if you can manage the problem. If you still need help, we would encourage you to call our free helpline so our team can carry out a site visit and provide solutions to your problems.

Wildlife Assistance Helpline 

+265 99 025 1320


Den monitoring and protection

Every month the CRM monitors and protects known and new hyaena dens. Once an area of interest is located using our GPS collar data and cluster points, we install camera traps to identify the possible dens. The information gathered is used to monitor our urban clan. The camera traps data are also used to protect the important denning sites by capturing evidence of disturbance or poaching.
When important sites are identified, we work in partnership with the Lilongwe City Council (LCC) to advocate for the protection of these points of interest (dens, culverts, road crossing, etc.) given the increased rate of urbanisation in the city.

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hyaena conservation translocation

The capital city of Malawi (Lilongwe) has a healthy population of urban spotted hyaena. However, hyaenas are often maligned and suffer from a lack of understanding through a history of negative local myths and legends. This is often compounded when hyaenas come into close contact with humans such as in Lilongwe, where they are often feared.

In June 2014, CRM was contacted by the DNPW about increasing fear and conflict between local communities and a specific hyaena clan occupying the city. The clan was at high risk and in a collaborative effort it was decided that the clan should be captured and safely relocated to a National Park away from local communities.

In partnership with LWT, DNPW and Central African Wilderness Safaris, we captured a clan of four animals from Lilongwe and translocated them into Liwonde National Park in April 2015. The clan was fitted with tracking collars and the CRM research team have been monitoring their progress along side the existing hyaena clan in LNP, assessing spatial and social behaviour, clan interactions and survival.

To our great surprise, a couple of months later the alpha female of the clan returned to Lilongwe. After a 250 kilometre journey from Liwonde National Park, heading towards the Mozambiquan border, crossing the crocodile and hippo infested Shire river, Urban1 reappeared in her home territory. 

You can read the full story here.

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