Trapping leopards using ringtones?!

Now that might sound like another one of the craziest f#?king thing you’ve heard, but according to this article in the Houston Chronicle, some forest officials in India have apparently used ringtones of roosters and cows to trap leopards! (And don’t ask why I’m getting this from the Houston Chronicle – they picked it up as filler from the AP, I guess):

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Ringtones used to trap leopards in India
© 2007 The Associated Press

AHMEDABAD, India — Those ubiquitous ringtones have reached the forests of western India, where leopards are answering their call.

So far six leopards that have strayed too close to villages have been lured into traps by ringtones playing the calls of roosters, goats and cows, said H.S. Singh, chief conservation research officer in the state of Gujarat.

“Now instead of using live bait, sounds of animals have been downloaded as ringtones on mobiles, which are attached to speakers kept behind cages and then played at regular intervals,” Singh said Tuesday.

“The leopard drawn by the sound is an unsuspecting victim,” Singh said, adding that the trick only worked at night.

All the leopards were later released unharmed in forests away from the villages, Singh said.

Thousands of leopards roam the Indian countryside, but continued loss of habitat has forced them into more frequent contact with villagers, resulting in the deaths of both humans and leopards.

Like me, you might be wondering why they didn’t use straighforward playback of these sounds with a boombox or something (as I did when I was trapping warblers in India some years ago)? I’m hoping someone on Nathistory-India (where I picked up this story) will shed some further light on this.

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