SYDNEY - Tiger poo is an effective new weapon in warding off animal pests, scientists said Wednesday, after years of experimenting with big cats' feces collected from Australian zoos.
A team from the University of Queensland made the discovery as they researched non-lethal ways to keep herbivores, such as goats and kangaroos, away from certain plants, Associate Professor Peter Murray said.
While such repellents are typically based on offensive smells like rotten eggs, blood or bone, using tiger poo came from the idea that "if you can smell a predator nearby you would probably want to go somewhere else," he said.
Murray and his team, who have worked on the project for eight years, conducted tests on goats in a small paddock, placing the feces taken from local zoos near a feeding trough and monitoring events with a video camera.
They found big cats' feces a more effective deterrent than those of other predators.
"The goats really didn't like it. They wouldn't go near the trough," Murray told AFP. He said old goat carcasses also proved effective in warding off goats, but the smell was so bad that it made the scientists feel sick.
The researchers also found that the faeces worked best as a deterrent when the tiger had been fed the animal being targeted.
"There's not only a chemical signal in the feces that says 'Hooly dooley, this is a dangerous animal', it's 'Hooly dooley, this is a dangerous animal that's been eating my friends'," Murray explained.
The scientist said a number of species showed similar reactions to the feces, and he believed that with more funding a synthetic tiger poo smell could be developed and potentially turned into a commercial product.
Image: Emily Walker / via Flickr