AMMONNEWS - Environmental activists and social media users on Thursday expressed anger over a video of a female hunter dragging two tied-down striped hyena cubs from their den in Madaba Governorate.
The video went viral on Wednesday after the female hunter, who identifies herself as a media practitioner, shared it on her Facebook page. In the video, which was also circulated by several news websites, the woman crawls out of the den with the two hyena cubs, whose mouths, front and back legs are all tied up.
As she sits in front of the den, the female hunter says in the video that she is in an area called Wadi Al Usood (the valley of the lions) in Theeban in Madaba, 30km southwest of Amman, and that she has hunted the two cubs to prevent attacks by predators on cattle herds in the area.
She holds the two cubs in front of the camera and addresses people saying: “So, what do you think! Are they pretty?” and when one of the helpless cubs wails, she shushes it, holds it to the ground with her knee and at one point asks it: “Are you challenging me?”
As she explains that the two cubs will be taken to a place where they cannot attack people or sheep, the hunter addresses Jordanian women saying that they can conquer their fears.
Hundreds of social media users and environmental activists expressed anger and condemned the act, calling on the Rangers (the Royal Environment Police) to track the woman down.
Lana Rasheed commented on the video on Facebook saying: “I hope the Rangers hunt you down.”
Mahmoud Jabareen said: “This is ignorance; are animal rights groups aware of this?”
Shamer Shamri wrote: “Those two hyenas are cubs; let them be; return them to their mother to breastfeed them.”
Others, such as Facebook user Ahmad Khatib, praised the woman’s “courage”, describing her as a “nashmiyeh” — meaning a brave woman — and a “sister of men”.
Meanwhile, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) issued a statement on Thursday indicating that it was investigating, in cooperation with the Rangers, the content of the video.
“The law forbids such a hunting activity and deems it a crime. This cannot be a way to gain fame,” the RSCN said in the statement on its Facebook page.
The director of the RSCN’s Conservation and Hunting Regulation Section, Abdul Razzaq Hmoud, expected legal action to be taken against the hunter for multiple reasons.
“She has committed several infringements against the law, including disturbing an animal’s den, animal cruelty and hunting an animal that is not allowed to be possessed, sold or displayed,” Hmoud told The Jordan Times.
Appendix 56 of the Agriculture Law, which was issued in the Official Gazette in April 2015, stipulates that it is illegal to hunt down wild birds and animals without obtaining a licence.
It is also illegal to hunt in areas and times where and when hunting is not permitted.
The same appendix also stipulates that it is illegal to kill, possess, transport, sell or display for selling wild birds and animals.
Hmoud said hyenas feed on dead carcasses of animals and only attack humans when they are in danger, noting that cattle owners should take precautions.
“Cattle owners are requested in the first place to protect their sheep by fencing off barns to prevent animal attacks…. It shouldn’t be the other way round — killing a wild animal to prevent it from attacking cattle in the future,” Hmoud added.
People in Jordan either kill hyenas out of fear for their lives, or hunt them for taxidermy purposes or for their flesh and blood, which they believe have medicinal uses. Others catch them and sell them to zoos, RSCN personnel have previously said.
Some people believe that hyenas have healing powers and that their blood and body parts can be used in charms; therefore, they hunt for the animal’s cubs.
Despite a lack of statistics about the hyena population in Jordan, field work indicates that their numbers are dwindling due to destruction of their natural habitat and hunting, according to the RSCN.
The striped hyena is native to the Middle East, North Africa, the Caucasus, Central Asia and India. The carnivorous mammal is frequently mentioned in Middle Eastern literature and folklore as a dangerous predator or a symbol of treachery, although attacks on human beings are rare, according to web sources.
A nocturnal animal, the striped hyena typically only makes itself visible in complete darkness, and is quick to return to its lair before sunrise.
The species is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as near threatened, as the global hyena population is estimated to be under 10,000 mature individuals.