This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Skip to main content

Talk to an expert 1-800-242-2434 Lines now closed

User menu
Brown Hyena
Asset 8

Brown Hyena

Where to see Brown Hyena in Botswana

This largely solitary scavenger is one of the more elusive and little-known of Africa’s carnivores. Shaggier than its spotted cousin, it occurs only in the arid southwest of the continent.

About image

Quick facts about Brown Hyena

Scientific name: Parahyaena brunnea Habitat: Semi-desert & savannah
IUCN status: Near Threatened Adult weight: 37–43kg

The brown hyena is a highly resourceful predator. Adapted to surviving in the arid Kalahari and Namib deserts, it scavenges on carcasses left by other predators but will also feed on insects, rodents, desert melons and – along the Namibian coast – abandoned seal pups.

Slightly smaller than the spotted hyena, you can distinguish a brown hyena by its pointed ears and shaggy brown coat, which it erects to intimidate other predators from their kills – even leopards.

Though generally seen alone, brown hyenas live in extended family clans, with all members cooperating to raise cubs. They are most active after dark, and cover great distances during their nightly foraging.


Foraging range

< 10,000

Estimated population


Length of neck hairs


Average clan size

The top camps for seeing brown hyena in Botswana

Based on 39 reports by our travellers since Aug 2018, visitors at these camps in Botswana have the best chances of sighting brown hyena.

Best chances to see

Good chances to see

Some sightings

No sightings yet

Top 10 camps for brown hyena

% of travellers who saw brown hyena

Top 10 camps for brown hyena

% of travellers who saw brown hyena

Where to see brown hyenas in Africa

The brown hyena is much harder to see than the spotted hyena, due both to its restricted range and retiring nature. You will need to visit the Kalahari, Namibia or northwest South Africa.

Top tips for viewing brown hyena

Brown hyenas are most numerous in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Botswana), the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Botswana/South Africa) and the coastal and northern desert regions of Namibia. You may also see them in northern South Africa, notably in the Madikwe and Pilanesberg reserves. In general, brown hyenas avoid areas with high populations of lion or spotted hyena.

Wherever they occur, however, these shy animals take some finding. They are largely nocturnal and much less vocal than spotted hyenas. They also tend to forage alone.

The best sightings often come at a known den, at dawn or dusk, where the animals have become habituated to human observers. It’s always worth asking your guide.


Our best Botswana holidays for brown hyena sightings

Based on our travellers' reports, these ideas for Botswana safaris are likely to give the best brown hyena sightings

Itinerary image

Pygmy Mouse Self-drive Safari

18 days • 10 locations

A truly epic southern African self-drive safari adventure from Namibia’s mountains and deserts, along the lush Caprivi Strip to Botswana and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, staying at luxury lodges throughout.

US$6,140 - US$10,360 per person

Itinerary image

Red Lechwe Safari

9 days • 3 locations

Superb guiding from three fabulous camps full of character in three contrasting areas for a fabulous safari to the Okavango Delta and Kalahari Desert.

US$10,800 - US$25,210 per person

Itinerary image

Wild Dog Safari

13 days • 5 locations

An in-depth discovery of northern Botswana’s wilderness, from Chobe and the private Kwando Reserve to the Moremi and iconic Okavango Delta with a great variety of activities and wildlife.

US$12,230 - US$21,930 per person

Itinerary image

Spring Hare Safari

9 days • 3 locations

An authentic and diverse safari to Botswana combining the Chobe Forest Reserve, Savuti Marshes and the Okavango Delta. Strong wildlife viewing, a variety of activities and excellent value camps.

US$7,290 - US$13,320 per person

Itinerary image

African Jacana Safari

7 days • 3 locations

An adventurous introduction to Botswana blending prolific wildlife, incredible landscapes and varied activities staying at relaxed camps in the Chobe Enclave, a community-owned reserve bordering the Moremi, and Makgadikgadi Pans.

US$7,770 - US$12,280 per person

Itinerary image

Wattled Crane Safari

5 days • 2 locations

A good-value Botswana safari staying at comfortable lodges in prime wildlife-viewing areas – Chobe National Park and the Moremi Reserve in the Okavango Delta.

US$4,690 - US$8,310 per person

Itinerary image

Porcupine Safari

11 days • 4 locations

Visit dramatically contrasting landscapes boasting a variety of species during this exploration of Botswana’s top-safari destinations. A combination of national parks and private reserves allows for a range of activities.

US$10,710 - US$16,860 per person

View all holidays to Botswana

More information about brown hyena in our other destinations

Click here for detailed information about brown hyena in other countries, including the places for sighting brown hyena.

Login to Expert Africa

Sign in with password

Sign in with email link

New to Expert Africa? Create an account

Forgotten your details?

It's free & quick to set up

  • Save your wish-list
  • Send us an enquiry
  • Pay online for your trip
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Give us feedback on your trip
  • Full site benefits of the site

Need some help? Talk to our team