ADVICE : LIVING ALONGSIDE HYAENA
CRM aims to resolve conflicts with carnivores to promote coexistence so that we can live alongside wildlife by reducing the risks associated with coming in contact with carnivores.
CRM provides a FREE HELPLINE SERVICE to assist people experiencing conflict with carnivores. We can conduct a site visit to advise you on how to minimise risks and reduce conflict. We also have a range of advice leaflets and guidance you can download here or receive paper copies from us in both English and Chichewa.
If you need help:
Read the advice below 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
Click the boxes below for advice about common issues associated with living alongside carnivores.
Meeting a hyaena when walking home
Walking at night or in the early morning should always be done with care. People in Lilongwe are at a higher risk from other people and feral dogs than they are from hyaenas. Curious hyaenas may show interest in or follow lone walkers in dark quiet locations. Lone walkers under the influence of alcohol are also at a higher risk and walking home alone after drinking should be avoided.
If you believe you are being followed at night by a hyaena, take the following actions:
Try to avoid coming across wild animals by keeping to well-lit, busy and noisy spaces and walking with companions after dark.
If you do meet a hyaena and it doesn’t show interest in you, ignore it, carry on walking away slowly.
Make a detour around it and DO NOT RUN. Running may trigger the hyaena to chase. Keep your eye out for other hyaenas nearby.
If the hyaena shows interests in you then;
Keep yourself calm and try not to show fear
Stop, don't run away. As a hunter, the hyaena will instinctively chase, even out of curiosity.
Don't lie down - this will increase its curiosity
If you are carrying food throw it away and if the hyaena shows interest in it, move away slowly.
Hyaenas are good hunters but also scavenge so avoid carrying food at night as a precaution.
See if you are standing near rubbish or a dead animal. The hyaena is likely to be more interested in it than you. Slowly move away, but keep facing the hyaena.
If the hyaena shows interest in you and moves towards you, suddenly move a few steps towards it to surprise it and make it think you are a predator. Wave your arms about, make yourself as big as possible. Make a loud noise - shout or scream and look aggressive and frightening. Most likely the hyaena will run away.
If not, vary your tactics - be still for a moment then make a sudden threatening movement or noise. If it growls or giggles, this is a sign that it is challenging your attack. In this case, stand your ground - never run away - but don't move any closer.
If you are carrying a bag, swing it around your head or make a loud noise e.g. hitting a metal bin or fence. Carrying a torch and whistle is a good precaution - flash the torch in its eyes. If it moves closer, stamp your feet or throw something at it.
Don't move away until after the hyaena does. When you do, move slowly, continuing to face the hyaena.
In the rare scenario that the hyena actually attacks you, stand your ground and fight back - use a stick or kick and hit its head. Never run.
Hyaena are taking my livestock
Hyaena will take advantage of easy prey, and livestock, especially livestock that is not well secured at night, it is a very easy meal.
If you think hyaena are taking your livestock first check:
“Is the predator definitely a hyaena – has the hyaena been seen or could it be feral dogs?”
Feral dogs are usually more a problem with livestock in Malawi than hyaena, especially smaller livestock like chickens. Hyaena are often the first to be blamed but the problem could just as easily be dogs, or even serval, jackal or leopard.
What can you do to prevent livestock attacks?
1. Intensify Human Vigilance
• The presence of humans is normally very effective in discouraging hyaena from attacking livestock. Having herdsmen present reduces the rate of attack compared to free-ranging herds.
2. Use guard dogs
• Guard dogs provide alternatives to herdsmen especially during the night when livestock is in kraals.
• Guard dogs are trained to alert people not to chase down hyaena.
• Guard dogs should be raised from puppyhood together with the livestock so that the dog and livestock can bond.
• If properly designed, constructed and maintained, fences can be almost completely effective in keeping out wild animals.
4. Traditional barriers
• Planting hedges of tree species such as euphorbia is low-cost and effective against carnivores.
• Although less permanent, fences made from dead thorny branches can be used in kraals for cattle.
5. Waste management
• Good waste handling systems – collection, transportation and disposal that restricts wildlife access to rubbish and food waste is important to avoid attracting wild animals to your home.
• Ensure that food waste is buried in a deep (minimum 1.5m) and steep-sided (90 degrees) pit.
• Throwing ashes on the waste each day minimises smell, reducing the attraction to hyaena.
6. Good husbandry practices
Livestock raids can be minimised through good husbandry practices:
• Herding during the day.
• Keeping livestock in a predator-proof enclosure at night (with good fencing, or raised off the ground e.g. chickens).
• Remove any thick cover near animal holding areas.
7. Non-lethal control
Use of deterrents that are effective at repelling animals from a site:
• Acoustic deterrents: Acoustic deterrents shock wildlife away by emitting an unexpected loud noise or a sound known to scare wildlife. Traditional methods may include beating drums, tins and trees; using whips in addition to shouting, yelling and whistling.
• Visual deterrents: Brightly coloured cloths and plastic may be hung from a fence at the edge of fields to distract predators like hyaena. Fires lit on the boundaries of fields or burning sticks carried by farmers can deter wildlife if you see them coming.
If you have done all you can to protect your livestock, call the CRM Wildlife Assistance Helpline to get advice and a site visit from trained staff.
Hyaena near my house at night
Are hyaena regularly visiting your house or is it a one-off?
Hyaena are curious carnivores that take opportunities when they arise, particularly the clans that live in the city as they are feeding less on wild game and more on feral dogs and waste food. If you keep livestock like chickens or goats they are probably interested in these. If they are visiting a property regularly, take the following actions:
• Ensure that you are not leaving waste food (especially meat) out in the open and that any livestock you own is well secured at night.
• Closing gaps in fencing will prevent hyaena from entering most properties.
• Always sleep inside a building at night, which is secured by a good door.
• Ensure children do not go outdoors alone at night.
• Keeping guard dogs will help deter carnivores from getting too close to your home.
If you have taken the actions above to discourage them but feel that hyaena are still regularly visiting your property, call the CRM Wildlife Assistance Helpline - our team can arrange a visit to see why they might be choosing to come to your land and if there are any further measures that can be taken to dissuade them.