While one does hear of residents of the animal kingdom mimicking other species, one doesn’t often hear the same of the tiger. Interestingly, tigers have been observed to ‘pook’ – meaning make a sound very similar to the alarm call of a Sambhar deer, the tiger’s pet prey. Tribals in the Nilgiri have for a long time maintained that tigers mimic their prey as a hunting strategy. Even hunters in Siberia tell tales of Amur tigers imitating the call of Asian black bears, a regular prey for tigers.
According to the research work of George Schaller, tigers pook when peeing, when trying to distract a male tiger away from a kill, on seeing a man on a tree or even when shot at. But never have they pooked during a hunt. Schaller’s summation was that tigers looked to announce their presence and prevent sudden encounters. Which is quite the opposite of hunting.
Royal Bengal tiger | Binomial name: Panthera tigris tigris
This is from my first tiger sighting ever. This massive male was hiding in the thicket, but then later emerged and gave me the show of a lifetime for the next 30 minutes. Like all times, it’s a sighting that’s firmly entrenched in my memory. I didn’t get to hear the tiger pook, but I did get a shot of it pooping. I’ll save that for a later post, maybe.
Conservation Status: Endangered (IUCN 3.1)
Kingdom: Animalia | Class: Mammalia | Order: Carnivora | Family: Felidae