music; ambience: lion roar and grunts
â€œItâ€™s not the MGM roar, you know, which is more of just a growl. Itâ€™s that long distance, bellowing grunt that you can hear fromwell, we know from at least 10 kilometers away, probably longer. Certainly, if youâ€™re a lion, theyâ€™re hearing it further away.â€
If you want to contact someone 5 miles away, you typically reach for a cell phone. But for a lion, a mighty roar can do the trick. Welcome to Pulse of the Planetâ€™s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Luke Hunter is a cat biologist and Executive Director of Panthera, an organization dedicated to conserving the worldâ€™s wild cats.
â€œAnd thatâ€™s a lovely, drawn out grunting call, which lions use for two reasons. One is a territorial reason. So, theyâ€™re proclaiming their presence to other neighboring prides. So, theyâ€™re telling other prides, Iâ€™m around. Donâ€™t come in here. This is my territory.â€™ But itâ€™s also a means by which lions within the one pride maintain communication with one another and contact with one another. So, if youâ€™re a lion male looking for your brother, and itâ€™s important to team up, because you know, you donâ€™t want to be ganged up on by another neighboring coalition, the roar has those two purposes of finding your brothers and making sure that you stay together, and finding your females, and also telling the opposition that youâ€™re around, not to come in here.â€
And with their own version of caller ID, lions have a pretty good sense of whoâ€™s calling, and how many cats are on the party line.
â€œSo, if they know the caller if itâ€™s a member of their pride, or even potentially a known enemya known stranger outside their pride rangetheyâ€™ll actually be able to recognize that as an individual. The second really intriguing thing that they can do is that they can count calls, whether one lion is calling or whether three lions are calling.â€
[ambience lion roar]
Luke Hunter believes it may be possible to use recorded lion calls as a deterrent, to keep cats within the boundaries of protected habitat.
Pulse of the Planetâ€™s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.