Tiger Songs Could Identify Individuals In The Wild

There's more behind that roar

Tiger
Tiger
catlovers/Flickr CC by SA 2.0

Can you identify a tiger just by listening to its roar? The non-profit Prusten Project thinks so.

"We started noticing that, when we walked by these tigers, we could recognize with our ears how different they sounded from one to another," founder of the project Courtney Dunn told New Scientist. "If we could hear it with just our human ears, what could a software program see?"

As it turns out, it can see quite a lot. Using recordings taken from captive tigers in zoos and sanctuaries around the United States, the researchers were able to easily differentiate between individual tigers, which roared (or vocalized) for different lengths of time, and at different frequencies. The researchers were even able to tell whether a tiger was male or female by listening to the recordings (female tigers tend to have higher-frequency roars).

So far, the technology has only been proven on captive tigers, but scientists hope to expand the work into the wild, where they hope recorders set up in conservation areas could provide an additional layer of information about the wild populations, from identifying the individual tigers in any given area, to gathering information about other wildlife in the ecosystem, including human interlopers.. Currently researchers use paw prints and camera traps to track the elusive big cats.

The project is currently being tested in the jungles of Thailand and the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia.