Wild Asian elephants distinguish aggressive tiger and leopard growls according to perceived danger

Submitted by Archiver on Tue, 16/10/2018 - 06:52

Preyspecies exhibit antipredator behaviours such as alertness, aggression andflight, among others, in response to predators. The nature of this response isvariable,withanimalsreactingmorestronglyinsituationsofincreasedvulner-ability. Our research described here is the first formal study to investigatenight-time antipredator behaviour in any species of elephants, Asian orAfrican. We examined the provocative effects of elephant-triggered tiger andleopard growls while elephants attempted to crop-raid. Tigers opportunisti-cally prey on elephant calves, whereas leopards pose no threat; therefore, wepredicted that the elephant response would be reflective of this difference.Elephants reacted similarly cautiously to the simulated presence of felids of  both species by eventually moving away, but differed markedly in theirmore immediate behavioural responses. Elephants retreated silently to tiger-growl playbacks, whereas they responded with aggressive vocalizations,such as trumpets and grunts, to leopard-growl playbacks. Elephants also lin-geredintheareaanddisplayedalertorinvestigativebehavioursinresponsetoleopard growls when compared with tiger growls. We anticipate that themethods outlined here will promote further study of elephant antipredator behaviour in a naturalistic context, with applications for conservation effortsas well.


Vivek Thuppil

and Richard G. Coss

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