Image Credit: flowcomm, CC BY 2.0, Image Cropped
Public health and economic benefits of spotted hyenas Crocuta crocuta in a peri-urban system (2021) Sonawane et al., Journal of Applied Ecology, https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.14024
The natural world provides as with a laundry list of health services, from cleaning the water we drink to providing blueprints for cutting edge medicine. Yet on this list of ecosystem services, carnivores often get left by the wayside. One such carnivore is the spotted hyena, which can be found roaming the outskirts of many towns in eastern Africa. The hyenas are adept scavengers, and clear away massive amounts of discarded meat every year, potentially preventing the spread of carcass-borne diseases like anthrax and tuberculosis.
Yet as with many predators, hyenas have often been feared, whether as a result of their historical association with evil spirits or more recent unfavourable portrayals. In a world where carnivores like wolves, dingoes and bears are often feared and driven off, providing proof of the benefits they bring is crucial. So that’s what today’s researchers set out to do.
Image Credit: Wade Tregaskis, CC BY-NC 2.0, Image Cropped.
If there’s one film that I could perhaps credit for sparking my fascination with the natural world, the it’s The Land Before Time. BUT if we’re going with films that do not feature the most gangly Pachycephalosaurids you ever did see, then it has to be The Lion King. The sweeping landscapes, the (at times literal) fountains of species, the Shakespearian drama, the poor understanding of trophic cascades – it’s got it all.
Image Credit: Raymond Santi, CC BY 4.0
After Disney nailed The Jungle Book three years ago (by giving it an actual plot) and made almost a billion USD, it was inevitable that The Lion King was next in big-budget almost-entirely-animal-based Disney capers (I’m guessing the Aristocats is next up). And thus, the Circle of
Massive Corporate Cashgrabs Life was completed this summer. Whether you liked it or not, you can’t deny that it was a movie that was made and that at least one child somewhere saw.
So, let’s have a look at it from an ecologist’s perspective.