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No. 68: Mar-Apr 1990

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Two-faced indians trick tigers

A significant hazard for fishermen and forest workers in western Bengal is a tiger attack. As these Indians go about their fishing, wood chopping, and honey gathering, tigers are wont to sneak up from behind, spring, and carry off a good-sized meal. But in recent experiments, some 900 volunteers have been wearing human masks on the backs of their heads. This strategem has cut ti-ger attacks drastically. The idea is that tigers, trailing a potential supper, see that human face and figure that the person is alert and watchful. In fact, tigers have been known to track maskwearers for hours without attacking. Pretty clever! How long before the tigers catch on?

(Anonymous; "Protective Mimicry in Humans," BioScience, 39:750, 1989.)

From Science Frontiers #68, MAR-APR 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss