Traditional crafts in Vietnam. Photos by Tran Tuan Viet.
1. Soy bean sauce, Hung Yen
2. Drying soy sauce mold, Ha Noi
3. Stilt fishing, Nam Dinh
4. Bamboo fishing trap, Bac Ninh
5. Sewing fishing net, Ninh Thuan
6. Fish sauce, Binh Thuan
7. Making conical hat, Binh Dinh
8. Fishing by Rớ, Quang Nam
9. Watering flower, Dong Thap
10. Weaving basket, Tay Ninh
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[Species] | Laughing hyena
The laughing hyena (Crocuta crocuta) is not only one of the four extant members of the Hyaenidae in Feliformia, but also the only extant member of its genus. Laughing hyenas, like their extant relatives (with the exception of striped hyenas) but unlike many of their extinct ancestors, are endemic to Africa.
On average, they reach body lengths (tail included) from 95 to 150 centimetres, whereas their average shoulder height is somewhere in-between 75 to 85 centimetres. These mammals exhibit sexual dimorphism in weight, with females being an average of 6.6 kg heavier than males, the maximum recorded weights being around 70 kilograms, whereas they’re only 60 for males. Laughing hyenas have a yellowish or sometimes grey coat with black or dark brown spots on the over most of the body. The spots are darker in young animals and get paler as they age, being sometimes completely absent in older animals
These mammals are common in many types of open, dry habitat, including semi-desert, savannah, acacia bush and mountainous forest, having been recorded as high as 4000 metres above sea level in Ethiopia. The more dense a forest the less common laughing hyenas are, and they don’t frequent deserts as much as other hyenas.
Laughing hyenas hunt by sound and eyesight. They’re fast and can run long distances without tiring. Packs work together effectively to isolate a herd animal, often one that is ill or infirm, and pursue it until death. The victors often fight over their food, either among themselves or with other animals.
Although laughing hyenas are commonly believed to be stealing from lions, as they share similar prey items and have an overlapping distribution, it does occur that a group (which can include up to 80 members), does the work of chasing down and killing prey to have it being stolen by lions.
Laughing hyenas are well known for being capable of producing a wide variety of sounds used for vocal communications. Groans and squeals are emitted during greetings, a whoop is used as a contact call, whereas a fast whoop is used by excited hyenas after a kill. Males tend to give the fast whoop more often than females, but also tend to be ignored. Finally, a lowing call is used by impatient hyenas who are kept waiting at a kill, and there’s a variety of calls to display aggression.
Although hyenas live in socially monogamous pairs, both males and females are known to mate with other individuals than their social partners of choice. Males perform a bowing display to females before mating, which includes lowering their muzzles to the ground, quickly advancing to the female, bowing again and then pawing on the ground. Since females are generally more dominant then males, males will immediately back off if the female shows any form of aggression.
The gestation period is usually around 4 months. Females tend to bear twins, but numbers from 1 to 4 other than 2 are in no way atypical. Females do give birth through their penis like clitoris (often called pseudo-penis), which ruptures to allow young pass through, resulting in a wound that takes weeks to heal. Cubs are weaned until they are 14 to 18 months of age, and females are capable of producing one litter every 11 to 21 months, the average being 16 months.
Laughing hyenas have the highest parental investment of any carnivore for several reasons. First, their milk has an extremely high energy content that is exceeded only by some bears and sea otters. Second, weaning occurs at an unusually late age, by the time of which juveniles already have completely erupted adult teeth. Females are very protective of their young and don’t tolerate other hyenas around them for a while. Finally, they intervene on behalf of their daughters in antagonistic encounters and form coalitions with them to secure their place in the dominance hierarchy, which is immediately below the mother. Males don’t seem to play a role in parental care.
The IUCN Hyena Specialist Group categorises this species as one of least concern. In addition to this spotted hyenas are conservation dependent, meaning that there is currently a conservation program aimed at this species, and that without this program they would become threatened within only 5 years.
Photo credits: Dave Williams
Sources: Animal Diversity Web, National Geographic, San Diego Zoo
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