Saturday, 5 September 2015

The Sign Language Between Predator And Prey

A Leopard in the Lumo Sanctuary (Taita Hills) walks towards an unconcerned hartebeest 

The African Savannah can be a very stressful place for certain types of wildlife, especially if they are among the favorite meals of predators. Antelopes and Zebras cannot keep their head down to eat or drink for more than a few seconds for fear of being suddenly ambushed. To make things fair however, there is a universal code of conduct between predator and prey that is seemingly never broken. Most predators display a body gesture or posture which is like sign language to notify animals in the vicinity about its intentions. 

Take the above leopard photographed in Lumo Sanctuary for example, since it was not hunting but merely walking through its territory, it flipped its tail over its back to reveal the white underside which notified the hartebeest that it is not in search of prey. The hartebeest immediately understood the sign language and without raising any alarm, calmly watched as the leopard walked past less than ten meters away from it.

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