The national animal of Gambia is the spotted hyena. This is a wild animal that mostly feeds on leftovers of other big animals like the lion and leopards. They belong to the sub-order of feliformia, which is a classification of the cat-like carnivores. Usually, the national animal of Gambia is seen as coward and timid. But this is not always the case as it can be very aggressive and dangerous at times.
Gambia’s national animal is mostly found in grasslands, woodlands, savannas, semi-deserts, forest edges and mountains. There total population is estimated to be between 27,000 and 47,000 (Spotted hyena fact sheet: population and conservation, 2014). Their status is listed as list concern by the IUCN though their numbers are constantly decreasing. Human beings are their number one enemy, as they kill hyenas to protect their livestock especially sheep and goats.
Facts about the National Animal of Gambia (Spotted Hyena)
- Common name: Spotted Hyena
- Scientific name: Crocuta crocuta
- Swahili name: Fisi
- Average weight: 90-190 pounds
- Average length: 28-35 inches
- Life expectancy: 12 years
- Main predator: Human beings
- Main diet: Carnivores
- Gestation period: 90-110 days
Habitat: savanna grasslands, woodlands, forests, mountains and semi-desert areas
As the name suggests, the spotted hyena has black spots on its brown skin. Its front legs are believed to be slightly taller than the hind ones, making it to appear slanting. Though hyenas are not hermaphrodites, distinguishing males from females can be a tall order. The female hyenas are just as big as their male counterparts. This helps them to protect their young ones from the male hyenas since they have cannibalistic tendencies. This strange animal is actually the national animal symbol of Gambia.
The reason as to why the hyena was declared the national symbol of Gambia is not clearly known, but some individuals believe it is due to its strong jaws and body.
- “Hyena fact file”-Out to Africa
- “National symbols of Gambia”-targetstudy.com
- “Facts about hyenas”-Live science
- “Spotted hyena fact sheet”-libguides.com