Why on Earth are wolves and hyenas hunting together?
Wolves and hyenas are hunting together in the Middle East — and scientists aren’t sure why.
Researchers have found that grey wolves and striped hyenas in Israel’s Negev desert are working together rather than competing in order to boost their survival chances, a remarkable discovery that shows just how adaptable life can be, according to a University of Tennessee at Knoxville statement.
Because prey is so scarce, carnivores would normally be competing fiercely for food, but something strange is happening in Negev.
Despite their ferocious reputations and size, hyenas and wolves aren’t fighting. They both have the same diet, which includes animals as well as plants and scavenged trash, and researchers spotted them hunting together in packs, showing just how adaptable these creatures are.
It’s especially remarkable because while wolves roam in packs, hyenas are usually solitary.
The two species are likely benefitting from each of their unique advantages in finding prey to boost the likelihood that they get food, making up for the fact that there’s more mouths to feed. Wolves tend to be better hunters than hyenas, while hyenas are better at sniffing out prety and cracking bones.
“Animal behavior is often more flexible than described in textbooks,” Vladimir Dinets, UT assistant professor of psychology, said in the statement. “When necessary, animals can abandon their usual strategies and learn something completely new and unexpected. It’s a very useful skill for people, too.”
The statement notes that Dinets theorizes “that both predators tolerated each other because they benefit from roaming the desert together. Wolves are more agile and can chase and take down all large animals of the region, while hyenas have an acute sense of smell and can locate carrion from many miles away. Hyenas also are better at digging out buried garbage and cracking open large bones and tin cans.”