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Exciting and rare footage of two wild tigers giving signals they are ready to mate has been captured by a WWF camera trap in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Sumatra.
"What is unique is that it is extremely rare for this tiger behaviour to be captured in the wild." - Joseph Vattakaven, Tiger Biologist, WWF Tigers Alive Initiative
The footage was captured in mid-December 2014 and shows a male Sumatran tiger (the larger of the two) ‘checking out’ a female Sumatran tiger.
“The tigress is giving signals to the male with her lying down posture and other gestures,” explains WWF tiger expert, Joseph Vattakaven. “The noise she makes is a non-threatening nasal sound used in friendly tiger interactions. The scientific term is Prusten but it is informally referred to as chuffing.”
A second piece of footage shows more of the interaction. Vattakaven continues;
“We can also observe the Flehmen response by the male tiger. When he sticks out his tongue and bears his teeth in a funny face, he is sniffing the scent/pheromones of the tigress. Flehmen allows the scent to be taken to the olfactory organ on the roof of his palate to better ascertain her condition.”
The male tiger has previously been captured by WWF-Bukit Barisan National Park (BBSNP) camera traps in mid-2013. Since installing the camera traps two years ago, the team have identified five Sumatran tigers – two males and three females, including the new tigress in this recent footage.
The footage is significant as it shows tiger behaviour prior to breeding – signs of a healthy tiger population in BBSNP. However protection of this area is essential if these tigers are to survive. During 2014 alone, WWF and BBSNP teams cleared 80 tiger snares and two illegal weapons from the national park.
“This is a good call for governments to maintain and increase comprehensive protection within the National Park boundaries and its surroundings to ensure the tiger population within is kept stable.” - Yob Charles, WWF Project Leader for Bukit Barisan Program-Lampung