Tracking predators in the Indian National Parks requires a lot of experience. The veteran drivers an guides know their national park well. But even that is not enough at times. It is the knowledge of understanding alarm calls which determines your chances of Tiger sightings during a safari.
As a first timer tourist it is not easy to understand what alarm calls are. It is only when you start hearing them during a safari that you understand their importance. How the drivers, and guides at times change directions in 180 degrees after listening to the alarm calls suggests the importance of understanding alarm calls.
There are direct signs left by a predator which help in tracking them, like, pug marks, scratch marks, spray, droppings or growls. Then their are indirect signs like an alarm call which also helps track them.
In simple words, alarm call is a call by a prey animal to alert rest of it’s herd about the movement of the predator. This call is high pitched, short, and intense. There are occasions when you see a prey animal give a call in front of you. Then there are times when you just hear the call coming from a distance. Usually the prey animal is either able to spot or smell a predator, and it immediately alerts the others in the area.
It is said that a Sambhar deer’s call is the most accurate when it comes to tracking Tigers. If the Sambar deer has called twice in succession it means the Tiger is present in the vicinity. Monkeys give alarm calls from the tree tops. They can spot a Tiger or a Leopard from a considerable distance. Interestingly a monkey’s alarm call is different when it sights a Tiger, and different when it sights a Leopard. As a Leopard can climb a tree and pick on a monkey hence the intensity and fear in his call is much more when he sights a Tiger.
There are few things that cannot be explained by words, one needs a practical demonstration. So i thought of explaining what an alarm call is through the below videos i shot myself during a safari.
We were tracking the Link 7, a popular male Tiger of Mukki Zone, a.k.a Chotta Munna son of legendary Munna of Kanha. We heard the alarm calls, and i decided to do a small video log on what an alarm call is all about, and how does it sound.
There are no professional cameras used, no tripods, no script, no take, retake, an on the spot impromptu decision to express. Shot using a small handy-cam held by myself while doing it.
To see more video explanations, you may visit my youtube channel on the below link:
Sharad Kumar Vats