- JOHANNESBURG -- Wild animals
seem to have escaped the Indian Ocean tsunami, adding weight to notions
they possess a "sixth sense" for disasters, experts said on Thursday.
- Sri Lankan wildlife officials have said the giant waves
that killed over 24,000 people along the Indian Ocean island's coast seemingly
missed wild beasts, with no dead animals found.
- "No elephants are dead, not even a dead hare or
rabbit. I think animals can sense disaster. They have a sixth sense. They
know when things are happening," H D Ratnayake, deputy director of
Sri Lanka's Wildlife Department, said Wednesday.
- The waves washed floodwaters up to 2 miles inland at
Yala National Park in the ravaged southeast, Sri Lanka's biggest wildlife
reserve and home to hundreds of wild elephants and several leopards. "There
has been a lot of anecdotal evidence about dogs barking or birds migrating
before volcanic eruptions or earthquakes. But it has not been proven,"
said Matthew van Lierop, an animal behavior specialist at Johannesburg
- "There have been no specific studies because you
can't really test it in a lab or field setting," he told.
- Other authorities concurred with this assessment.
- "Wildlife seem to be able to pick up certain phenomenon,
especially birds ... there are many reports of birds detecting impending
disasters," said Clive Walker, who has written several books on African
- Animals certainly rely on the known senses such as smell
or hearing to avoid danger such as predators.
- The notion of an animal "sixth sense" or some
other mythical power, is an enduring one which the evidence on Sri Lanka's
battered coast is likely to add to.
- The Romans saw owls as omens of impending disaster and
many ancient cultures viewed elephants as sacred animals endowed with special
powers or attributes.
- The tsunami was triggered by an earthquake in the Indian
Ocean on Sunday. It killed thousands of people in SE Asia.