Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fasting for Lent forces hyenas to change diet

In Ethiopia, members of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church stop eating meat and dairy products during a 55-day fast before Easter. As a result, spotted hyenas too change their eating habits – from scavenging waste from butchers and households to hunting – new research in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Animal Ecology has found.


The results showed that when humans stop buying, eating and discarding animal products the hyenas' eating habits change significantly: before Lent, 14.8% of hyena droppings contained donkey hairs, during Lent this increased to 33.1%, falling again to 22.2% once the fast was over.
According to Yirga: “Our study shows a remarkable change in the hyenas' diet – we found that hyenas around Mekelle mainly scavenge waste from butchers and households but during fasting donkeys provided an alternative food source.”

Gidey Yirga et al (2012).'Adaptability of large carnivores to changing anthropogenic food sources: diet change of spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) during Christian fasting period in northern Ethiopia', Journal of Animal Ecology, April 2012.

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