Update 10 April 2014
Juno's tracking collar has been paid for and is making its way to South Africa from Sweden. As soon as the collar arrives it will be fitted on Juno and she will be released to the wild.
Update 16 May 2014
The tracking collar finally arrived in South Africa and on Friday afternoon 16 May 2014 Juno was darted by Dr Brett Gardner from Johannesburg Zoo and the collar was fitted. The fitment of the collar had to be such that it is loose enough not to cause strangulating but also tight enough that it cannot be pulled over her head. The plan was to hold her in the boma for a couple more days to assess her reaction to the collar and make sure the tracking collar was working effectively. All went smoothly with the fitting of the collar and as an extra visual aid a small notch was cut in her right ear. On monitoring Juno appeared to have accepted the collar and was relaxed despite her still existing fear of anything human related.
Unfortunately during the night Juno panicked and tried to get rid of the collar by using her back feet and eventually managed to get one of her bottom canines stuck in the collar. As result of this she had to be darted again and the decision was made to remove the collar. The boma gate was opened late afternoon and Juno made her way onto the reserve without the tracking collar.
The purchase of the tracking collar is not wasted as the Urban Hyena Research Project will be using the collar for tracking of one of the members of a specific brown hyena clan resident on the outskirts of Johannesburg to track their movements.
Juno, the Brown Hyena, rescued
Read Juno's story
On 26 September 2013, Inspector Wendy Willson of the NSPCA's Wildlife Protection Unit was instrumental in the safe capture of the juvenile brown hyena that had been wandering in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg over a period of several days. The animal's life was considered to have been at risk as she was in an area with high traffic volumes. Public interest had led to her being tracked to the point that she was being chased.
The female hyena, estimated to be around six months old, was safely darted and captured with the assistance of a wildlife veterinarian. An initial assessment was that she was tired, stressed and had worn down the pads on her paws due to the extent of her running in a built-up area. She, however, responded well to treatment.
Juno was initially cared for at the Johannesburg Zoo where she was exposed to absolute minimal human activity to increase her chances of a successful release back into the wild.
Since attempts to locate Juno's clan were unsuccessful, Juno was taken to a safe reserve in December 2013 and is being accommodated in a pre-release boma pending her release back into the wild. (Visuals show Juno on the day of her relocation to the reserve. The blue markings are wound spray). Juno will stay in the pre-release boma because she is still too young to be released on her own. Her release is further complicated by the fact that females stay with their clans for most of the lives and integrating Juno with a strange clan is minimal. Male hyenas roam between clans and it is hoped that Juno will try to establish a bond with a roaming male during this time.
The NSPCA has formed a partnership with the Urban Hyena Research Project, aimed at helping other wild hyenas, like her, who inadvertently wander into urban areas and desperately need protection from the public or assistance to find their way home.
Once the time comes for release, Juno will be fitted with a collar in order to follow her movements and she will be monitored by the Urban Brown Hyena Project. Due to her young age fixing a collar at this stage is also not feasible.
The tracking system will allow the NSPCA and the Urban Research Project to collect information on the hyena clan, as currently almost nothing is known about their habits. How they reach the built-up areas, what routes they use, what is their territory and its size, and how many members in a clan are just a few questions the collaboration is hoping answer.
Hyenas in urban areas are a much more common occurrence than most people realise, and as our built-up areas encroach more into previously wild areas, the incidence of hyenas – and other wildlife – in urban neighbourhoods is on the increase.
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Updated: 3 December 2014