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New Study Proves That Animals Are More Afraid of Humans Than They Are of Lions

A study in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park suggests that the sound of people is more frightening to animals than the “king of the jungle.”

Researchers tested the theory by setting up trail cameras to observe iconic savanna mammals like elephants, zebras, and rhinos. They used attached speakers to play a mix of sounds, from humans talking to a roaring lion.

In most cases, the animals fled more quickly at the sound of a human.

In fact, wild animals were twice as likely to run and abandon a waterhole when they heard a human’s voice coming from the speakers. The animals that ran did so at a 40% faster rate than when they heard a lion’s roar from the speakers.

Of the animals they tested the sound on, 95% ran more from humans than lions. The species included giraffes, leopards, hyenas, zebras, kudu, and warthogs, among others.

“Our results greatly strengthen the growing experimental evidence that wildlife worldwide fear the human ‘super predator’ far more than other predators,” researchers wrote in the summary of their findings.

The study came about after recent global surveys showed that humans kill prey at a “much higher rate” than any other predator. Humans have become “super predators” mostly due to our technology.

The results are not only interesting but also possibly concerning, especially in Africa, where conservation efforts are funded heavily by tourism. Visitors expect to see these animals on safari, but if the animals flee at the mere sound of a person, if might make this more difficult.

On the flip side, a healthy fear of humans may keep some animals safer from illegal hunting.

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