Human chit-chat terrifies wild animals (infographic)

Scariest sound for animals is human chit-chat
Scariest sound for animals is human chit-chat. This image is free to use under an unconditional Creative Commons licence. Click on the image to see the larger original version and then right-click on that to download it by following the menu.
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Humans conveniently forget that they are the world’s deadliest and top predator. And wild animals (and often domestic animals) know it. They understand. They’ve learned over eons through humankind’s persecution of wildlife that we are to be feared like no other predator. To a herbivore, the fiercest lion is less terrifying than us. This is the conclusion of at least two studies, one concerning the wild animals of the Serengeti when the researchers set up speakers near a waterhole out of which came the sounds of human voices and now as reported in The Times from Australia, ironically, where the Aussie authorities persecute kangaroos, feral cats and foxes relentlessly, killing them in their hundreds of thousands.

They had thought that Australia’s marsupials such as the kangaroo would be relaxed about predation as there are no predators of kangaroos. The amusing problem is that the Australians were blind to the fact that they are predators.

The lead researcher, Zanette said that “There has been a large mammalian predator present in Australia for the past 50,000 years; it is extremely dangerous. All the marsupials fully recognise how dangerous it is and respond entirely appropriately and entirely consistent with how carnivores and ungulates on other continents respond to this predator; and that predator is, of course, humans.

Tom Whipple, The Times science editor writes that,

“There is a sound that animals fear more than any other. It’s not the howl of a wolf, the roar of a lion or the bark of a dog. It’s human conversation. And their fear of its approach, research shows, holds true wherever you are.”

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. It is significant as it includes Australia as highlighted in the infographic. It is there that the leaders believed that they were not perceived as predators by their native species. But they are and humans are seen as the most terrifying predator of all.

How many kangaroos are shot by Australians in one year?


Each year, as many as five million kangaroos are shot in Australia as part of a home-grown industry that harvests their carcasses for meat, pet food, and leather. These iconic native animals are being slaughtered at an alarming rate to supply the lucrative meat and skin trade. It’s important to note that this figure does not include “by-kill,” such as joeys who die when their mothers are killed, so the true death toll is likely even higher. Kangaroo leather, widely used in sporting shoes, gloves, and other products, comes from these animals.

Across Australia, thousands of animals continue to meet a violent fate from shooting. Duck shooting occurs for up to twelve weeks a year in some of Australia’s picturesque wetlands. Despite being banned in three states, duck shooting remains legal in Victoria, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory. Compassionate communities overwhelmingly call for an end to this practice.

Recently, Australia approved the aerial shooting of wild horses (known locally as “brumbies”) in one of the country’s largest national parks. Authorities describe this practice as “essential” to protect native wildlife.

Now you can understand why the wild animals of Australia are terrified of humans.

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