Adversity brings hyenas, wolves together in unlikely alliance

Hyenas and wolves aren't well liked by other carnivores, but they work together in the desert of southern Israel.
By Brooks Hays  |  March 17, 2016 at 4:54 PM
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn., March 17 (UPI) -- Groups of people often band together in times of trouble. The same holds true in animal kingdom.

In Israel, the harsh aridity of the southern Negev inspires an unlikely alliance between striped hyenas, Hyaena hyaena, and grey wolves, Canis lupus.

"Animal behavior is often more flexible than described in textbooks," Vladimir Dinets, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Tennessee, said in a news release. "When necessary, animals can abandon their usual strategies and learn something completely new and unexpected. It's a very useful skill for people, too."

Hyenas and wolves are not exactly well liked by their predator peers. Hyenas commandeer fresh kills from fellow carnivores and pick fights with lions and wild dogs. Wolves hunt lynxes, coyotes and dogs.

Diners and Beniamin Eligulashvili, an Israel-based zoologist, observed hyenas and wolves migrating together peacefully through the desert canyons of the southern Negev. The two species' ranges overlap throughout Asia, but Israel's Negev is the driest region in which the animals share space.

In a new study on the unlikely friendship -- published in the journal Zoology in the Middle East -- Diners hypothesizes that the two species tolerate each other to take advantage of each other's unique skill set.

Wolves are more agile and athletic, capable of running down and killing large prey, while hyenas boast a superior sense of smell.

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