Context . Livestock depredation and scavenging of waste by the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) occurs widely across Ethiopia.
Aims . The aim of this study was to investigate the food base of the spotted hyena and livestock depredation across Ethiopia.
Methods . The diet of spotted hyenas was assessed in 17 randomly selected study sites across the country, including two national parks, by scat analysis. We conducted an extensive survey of livestock depredation and economic impact in 10 randomly selected subdistricts using semistructured interviews with 3080 randomly selected households.
Key results . We found that even spotted hyenas from national parks feed predominantly on anthropogenic waste. Households reported losses of 2230 domestic animals, 3.9% of their stock or an average annual financial loss of US$10.3 per household over the past five years. The diet of spotted hyenas showed only prey items of domestic origin except in Chebera Churchura National Park, where a few items of prey of wild species were found. Frequencies of prey remains of cattle, sheep, donkey and goat were highest in decreasing order.
Key conclusions . Survival of hyenas in Ethiopia is thus largely and widely dependent on management of livestock conflict and waste. Some hairs in scats originated from depredation, but most food intake is from waste dumps and slaughterhouses.
Implications . Waste management, spotted hyena persistence and environmental sanitation area are linked.