The Striped Hyena and the Brown Hyena are considered “Near Threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains a “Red List” of at-risk and extinct species around the world. But at the OOPL Wildlife Park, the Hyenas procreate seamlessly, giving hope to the survival of their species.
OOPL had in 2015 brought in 2 hyenas – a male and a female which have now reproduced thrice. Today, the Wildlife Park at the OOPL have eight spotted and striped hyenas altogether.
“We keep them safe here. But for the initial issues with one that devoured its offspring, we have managed them very well here and they are multiplying in number”, Damilare Ajayi noted during the naming ceremony of lions and animals last November at the Park.
Both Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and a former Head of Service, Afolabi Oladapo adopted and named two cub lions Aremu and Ade respectively, the Deputy Chief coordinator, Mr Ayodele Aderinwale adopted a cub Spotted Hyena.
About 47,000 spotted hyenas live in sub-Saharan Africa. They suffer all forms of persecution as other hyenas but have fared better due to their ability to adapt to life in proximity to humans.
The spotted hyena is doing well enough to be considered of “Least Concern” by IUCN, but its population is also declining, primarily due to habitat loss.
The striped hyena roams a very large, patchy range stretching from northern Africa through the Middle East to India. Biologists estimate that only 5,000 to 14,000 individuals exist today in the wild.
According to the IUCN, major reasons for the animals’ decline include persecution (especially poisoning) by humans, decreasing sources of carrion due to declines in the populations of other large carnivores (wolves, cheetahs, leopards, lions and tigers) and their prey, and changes in livestock practices.
“Humans are consistently indicated as the major source of mortality…largely because the hyena is loathed as a grave robber, and because of incidents of damage to agriculture…and livestock,” reports the IUCN. Also taking a toll is illegal hunting for striped hyena skins and body parts for use in traditional medicine.
The IUCN reports that negative attitudes toward hyenas prevail across South Africa and elsewhere, with many ranchers and farmers shooting, poisoning, trapping and hunting them with dogs.
The OOPL Wildlife Park is the part of the presidential library which houses over one hundred and forty indigenous and exotic animals including hyenas, lions, pythons, baboons, horses, and several species of birds. It was set up to encourage wildlife conservation, educate the general public, promote tourism and also support research.
The Wildlife Park used the occasion of its opening to launch its Animal Adoption Programme aimed at recruiting individual and corporate partners who will support the Park in providing the financial resources for the preservation and care of animals that are on the brink of extinction as a result of increased human activities.
Partners in the programme stand to enjoy a number of enviable benefits which are in four tiers: Keeper, Guardian, Friend, and Family. At family level, adopters can come to the park with two family members to see the animals. They can have pictures and souvenirs. Animals are named after adopters, and plaques are made in their honour.
Forming the highpoint of the event was the naming ceremony of three newly born animals; a lion cub, a hyena cub and a foal. School children from Abeokuta and other guests at the occasion enjoyed the privilege of choosing names for animals.
The daily entry fee to the Park, which now opens daily from 9am to 6pm, is N500.