Conservation Measures Questionnaire surveys in the Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan and an evaluation of published information suggest that the striped hyaena is already extinct in many localities and that populations are generally declining throughout its range. The major reasons for this decline are decreasing natural and domestic sources of carrion due to declines in the populations of other large carnivores (wolf, cheetah, leopard, lion, tiger) and their prey, and changes in livestock practices. Moreover, the low densities and associated large home ranges are likely to increase the chances of fragmentation of populations into small, non-viable units. This must be considered a key problem for the future. The striped hyaena evokes many superstitious fears because of reputed and documented cases of injuries to humans sleeping outside, snatching and killing of children, and grave robbery. In addition, it is widely exploited as an aphrodisiac, utilised for traditional healing, and killed because of suspected or real damage inflicted on agricultural produce and livestock. The striped hyaena has been widely hunted through poisoning, baiting traps, pits, or with the help of dogs. A tentative estimate of the total worldwide population size is 5,000 to 14,000 individuals.
The upper estimate of the global population size of the striped hyaena exceeds 10,000 individuals. However, fragmentation of the world population into many subpopulations is suspected even though the actual degree of fragmentation is unknown. In addition, a degree of habitat loss and population decline is taking place at an unknown rate, and the minimum population estimate is less than 10,000 individuals. The striped hyaena is considered threatened in all parts of its Africa range where data are sufficient to evaluate the local status with the exceptions of Ethiopia and Kenya where it is considered lower risk (Hofer & Mills 1998). We therefore agree with the IUCN-assigned status of striped hyaena as Lower Risk: near threatened (IUCN, 2000).
As with the other members of the hyaena family, one of the most significant threats to the persistence of the striped hyaena is the misconception that these animals routinely kill livestock. Because of this false belief, striped hyaenas are often shot by livestock ranchers in eastern Africa.
As we currently know so little about the biology of this species, one of the most pressing conservation concerns is to study these animals in a number of different locales. In addition to knowing very little about their behavioral ecology, we also know virtually nothing about their abundance and population dynamics. Before we can make management decisions in the best interest of striped hyaenas, we need to acquire more information. Therefore studies of these animals are currently under way in east Africa, India, and the middle east.