I recently saw a documentary which suggested that
the tigers can use sonar or low frequency sound to mesmerize its
prey and so prevent it from fleeing thereby catching it.
I disagree, I think the tiger is an intelligent
master stalker, surprising its prey by stealth or lying in ambush.
Silence and surprise is the key to the tigers success as a hunter,
not the use of sound.
Where I think the tiger uses low frequency, is in
the defense of territory or defense of its kill.
Can the low frequency growl affect human beings I
believe it can.
Consider the following, I am a member of the tiger
pride so to speak.
Ron is the dominant male patrolling the area.
Mostly he is on his own marking territory, occasionally he visits
Julie, the cubs and myself.
Julie is the matriarch and main hunter providing
for herself and three cubs and Ron when he pirates the kills.
I sit somewhere low in the hierarchy, mainly
because of my relationship with Julie.
So far the cubs have tolerated me as an outside
observer, but this is beginning to change.
So far Julie has been very successful catching
wildebeest and blesbuck. Recently she has moved away from these two
species and is catching mountain reedbuck.
The mountain reedbuck weigh around 28kg.
Immediately Julie makes the kill the dominant of the two tiger cubs,
Tiger Boy, takes the kill.
If Ron is not around, no other tiger competes with
him. Tiger Boy will easily take 14 to 20kg from the kill.
By the time Shy Boy and Savannah get there turn,
there is nothing left for Julie.
A situation is emerging where the main hunter
Julie, who needs to keep her strength up, is getting the least meat
from the kills and her condition is dropping off.
This situation is causing me some concern
especially due to my close relationship with Julie.
Consider the following scenario. Julie catches a
mountain reedbuck on a rocky koppie. Unable to move the film vehicle
in, I go on foot.
I take a movie camera, a stills camera and a low
frequency recorder. I place the movie camera on a bean bag to record
the action. I begin to circle Tiger Boy who has the kill, taking
still pictures. I have with me my stick and my unloaded revolver
strapped to my waist.
As I circle, Tiger Boy emits a low rumbling growl.
I get the impression that parts of the growl are below my hearing
capability. This continues for 20 minutes.
I move closer to Tiger Boy and then kneel down to
take a picture.
Perhaps because I am now in a submissive position,
he lines his body up, his legs are bunched, the lips curled back,
canines gleaning in the morning light, the tail flicks back and
forward. The growl increases in volume reaching a crescendo and then
he comes straight for me in a terrifying charge. One hundred and
eighty pounds of pure fury.
My brain reacts, instantly I move to fight rather
than flight mode, I stand up right, I shout and as he comes in, I
hit him with my stick. He rears up, trying to rake me, the stills
camera crashes to the ground.
Julie and Shy Boy both go for the kill, Tiger Boy
wheels and attacks them, both give up the kill immediately.
Tiger Boy has made his point, the balance of power
has shifted, I can no longer simply walk in on his kill, I can no
longer cross the imaginary line.
In short, he and not me is now dominant. It has
taken him one year to assume the dominate role.
It look me several minutes to recover myself and I
was loathe to go back and recover my movie camera.
As the shock wore off, I became anxious. The
anxiety stayed with me for several hours. Try as I may, I could not
shake the anxiety off.
Later when the growls are slowed down on the
computer, it emits a eerie sound, much like the sound they use in
the movies when the actor is in a haunted house or a graveyard or a
serial killer is on the loose.
In a controlled experiment, the documentary shows
various people being played low frequency growls. Although they have
no idea of what the sound is, all register fear and anxiety.
The three months of freedom for the tigers, have
been intensely interesting. Ron spends the majority of his time
patrolling and marking territory.
Many of his hours, are spent on his eastern
boundary, growling at Seatao through the wire.
He begins with a low rumbling, leading to a
deafening growl as he charges the fence. Seatao offers no
resistance, he replies by "chuffing " greeting in Tiger language
then he moves off.
It is here that I believe Ron is using sonar sound
to intimidate Seatao.
I believe Tiger Boy is using sonar sound to
intimidate Julie, Shy Boy, Savannah and myself when we get too close
to his kill.
In my case, he believes I am puny, I have no
teeth, no claws and can't growl, so I am an easy target.
Did the growling have an anxious effect on me, you
bet it did!