Did Disney get it all wrong? Professor Russell Hill of the University of Durham claims that all environments are “Landscapes of Fear”.
A seminar by Bangor University brought to the front of my attention the importance of predator-prey interactions in an environment. Not only the survivability of a species but the important role these interactions have on the social order of primates.
To measure fear his research focused on assessing the alarm calls they made. As shown in the Attenborough video, a call is unique and can vary between the type of predator. In this study, the predators include Leopards, Predatory raptors (Eagles) and Snakes.
To identify the specific calls, not only did they set up cameras to observe but the Professor was also working in conjunction with the Limpopo leopard project. This project had leopards of the area GPS tracked via collars so when an alarm call is made they can directly correlate a specific call to the leopard.
They found that the arboreal Samango monkeys had significantly raised alarm calls for eagles.
Whereas the terrestrial Vervets only raised significant alarm calls in the presence of leopards. These differences are most likely attributed to the environments their prey is more likely to be occupying.
However, when faced with these threats, the populations of monkeys became vigilant. Their vigilance meant they spent less time feeding in their home ranges and more time “on the look out” for predators to decrease chances of being surprised or eaten.
Fear Can Regulate Feeding and Social Order
Therefore, the fear of a predator that stimulates the reaction of the prey can regulate environments and the food availability but also regulates the order of, specifically, pack or grouped prey in the habitat.
In my opinion, this field of research has a large range of different uses and applications that we could use.
African Farm Protection
Chimpanzees and Cercopithecus monkeys in African countries often raid farming land for food and crops which can severely damage the area’s income and increase the likelihood of famine and disease (McGuinness and Taylor, 2014).
Therefore If we can discover and record the alarm call of these monkeys and repeat before they raid or from speakers near the crops, it should decrease or prevent the monkeys from feeding.
If we look into conservation further, in my opinion, further applications of these findings could include the use in animal reserves to decrease poaching effects.
Some poachers target primates for; fur, pets and food. To possibly decrease the chances of the poachers being successful playing a specific alarm call could make the primates more vigilant to any movement towards them. Therefore, decreasing the successfulness of poachers catching their target species.
To possibly decrease the chances of the poachers being successful playing a specific alarm call could make the primates more vigilant to any movement towards them. Therefore, decreasing the successfulness of poachers catching their target species.
Therefore, decreasing the successfulness of poachers catching their target species.
Disney Got It Wrong?
Yes, it would appear that it is not the Circle of Life but instead the Circle of Fear that keeps our environments in balance. Fear is thus one of the most primary and basic functions all organisms need.