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Anxiety towards humans is widespread in the South African savanna

by In-house Editor

Recent global surveys reveal that humans exhibit significantly higher predatory lethality compared to other predators in ecosystems. While typical apex predators are often perceived as the top of the food chain, researchers, including conservation biologist Liana Y. Zanette and Michael Clinchy from Western University in Canada, aimed to investigate the unique ecological role of humans as predators. They conducted a South African mega-experiment involving 19 mammal species, exposing them to various recorded sounds, including human voices, lion vocalizations, barking dogs, and gunshots.

The results indicated that mammals were twice as likely to flee or abandon waterholes upon hearing human voices as opposed to lions or hunting-related sounds. Remarkably, 95% of species, including giraffes, leopards, hyenas, zebras, kudu, warthogs, impalas, elephants, and rhinoceroses, displayed more significant avoidance responses towards humans than lions. The study suggests that humans evoke heightened fear reactions among wildlife, surpassing even the perceived threat of apex predators like lions, illustrating the unique ecological impact of human predation.

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