Around a century back, there were two kinds of striped large carnivorous mammals in this deltaic plain – what is now mostly Bangladesh. In addition to tiger stripes, the other kind was wielded by the striped hyena.
Striped hyenas are ethereal carnivore, cleaning agent of an ecosystem, a fine example of evolution, and an excellent contender of any beauty contest in the wild.
This magnificent beast has long disappeared from Bangladesh. It used to live in northern and south-central grassland-shrubland mosaics.
As boundless plains had begun to transform into arable lands, hyena was the first carnivore to leave Bengal with their habitats gone.
Today, on this ancient land, hyena's fate hangs in the balance in the scrub forests of West Bengal near Bihar and Odisha of India.
Elsewhere, it lives in North and East Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. But everywhere, like its three other cousins, the striped hyena is still stigmatised, least-studied, shot on sight, and poached for traditional medicine usages.
Scientific name: Hyaena hyaena
Global Status: Near threatened. Its population is in decline. In places, particularly in Asia Minor and the Middle East, it is extremely rare.
Remarks: The striped hyena is the national animal of Lebanon.
A nocturnal scavenging animal, it only emerges in complete darkness, and is quick to return to its lair before sunrise.
It can feign death when attacked.
It is less known than the larger and more aggressive spotted hyena for standing its ground against larger predators.
When alarmed, the animal can erect its guard hairs along the back, giving an even more intense regal impression.