The striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) is a species of true hyena native to North and East Africa, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Middle and Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. It is listed by the IUCN as near threatened, as the global population is estimated to be under 10,000 mature individuals which continues to experience deliberate and incidental persecution along with a decrease in its prey base such that it may come close to meeting a continuing decline of 10% over the next three generations.
It is the smallest of the true hyenas and retains many primitive viverrid characteristics lost in larger species, having a smaller and less specialised skull. Though primarily a scavenger, large specimens have been known to kill their own prey, and attacks on humans have occurred on rare instances. The striped hyena is a monogamous animal, with both males and females assisting one another in raising their cubs. A nocturnal animal, the striped hyena typically only emerges in complete darkness, and is quick to return to its lair before sunrise. Although it is often considered a cowardly animal (due to its habit of feigning death when attacked), it has been known to stand its ground against larger predators such as leopards in disputes over food.
While the striped hyena has no natural predators, it does often come into conflict with humans. they are often poisoned and trapped for preying on livestock or raiding farms. Some of their body parts are also believed to have medicinal value. Striped hyenas have also become endangered through habitat loss.