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Call of the Wild


(From the September 17 Science World.)

How do you prevent wild leopards from wandering too close to areas populated by humans? Give the cats a phone call.

Leopards in Gujarat, India, are losing their natural habitats to farming and industrial projects. As their forest homes and food sources shrink, the cats roam villages in search of livestock to prey on. To help prevent conflict between humans and leopards, wildlife officials turned to cell phone technology.

Last spring, officials downloaded ring tones featuring the sounds of cows, roosters, and goats. Then they attached their “mooing,” “clucking,” or “bleating” phones to cages near villages. “Leopards have keen hearing,” says Kathy Marmack a big cat expert at the San Diego Zoo in California. Lured by the calls of livestock, the hungry cats are being safely trapped.
—Mona Chiang