The WWF reports that researchers in Turkmenistan spotted a striped hyena in a park. The species once ranged from Africa through to India and Central Asia, but habitat degradation and declining prey populations have caused their Asian populations to decline.
This discovery in a protected area of Turkmenistan suggests that conservation measures are successfully protecting even top predators which require more space and resources than many other species.
Striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) are a different genus from the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Striped hyenas are generally solitary, or live in small family groups.
Spotted hyenas, however, have social groups that can be as large as 80 individuals. Like many species, hyenas use mating to establish and maintain dominance hierarchies within each clan. In a matriarchal society, this creates complications, and either as a way of preventing aggression from other females or to simplify simulated matings, spotted hyenas have and enlarged clitoris that looks almost identical to a male penis; a structure known as a pseudopenis. In addition, females develop a structure similar to a scrotum, filled with spongy tissue which simulates testes. Males and females are practically indistinguishable without blood tests or dissection.
Because of this, the species was long thought to be bisexual, but later research showed that to be based on misidentifications and misunderstandings.