Thursday, 7 August 2014

NEWSLINK: Monkeys use researchers 'as human shields' to avoid leopards and big cats in the wild


The samango monkeys of South Africa usually have a good reason not to stray too far from the forest. Although they spend much of their time loping through the trees they know to keep within a certain range: climb too high and they're targets for eagles, too low and they could be a big cat's lunch.


However, it seems there is an exception to this behaviour - and that’s when people are around. A new study from the journal of Behavioural Ecology reports that samango monkeys under observation by scientists use the researchers  as “human shields”, counting on their presence to avoid being picked off by a leopard.

Scientists found that when they set up feeding stations at different levels in the forests (some on the ground, some mid-way up trees, and others higher up) the monkeys not only ate more when they were being watched but they also favoured the ground-based stations, suggesting that they did not see humans as a reliable defence against airborne threats.

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