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Animals sensed tsunami days ahead: Expert

Animals in a park in Lanka sensed the tsunami three or four days ahead of the strike on, experts in Sri Lanka said.
PTI | By PK Balachanddran, Colombo
UPDATED ON JAN 07, 2005 09:29 AM IST

Animals in the Yala National Park in south Sri Lanka might have felt tell-tale signs of the tsunami three or four days ahead of the strike on December 26, and that is why there has been no report of animal death from there, says Dr Ranjith Premalal De Silva, an expert in geological information systems.

"Yala is known for its elephants. But not a single elephant was killed! And Yala was one of the worst-hit areas in Sri Lanka," Dr De Silva told Hindustan Times in Colombo on Wednesday. 
An India-trained disaster management expert, Dr De Silva said that there had been a lot of research in China on animals and earth tremors and that it was time other countries like Sri Lanka started studies in this field. According him, good work is already being done in India.

As early as the 1950s, the Chinese had found that domestic animals were able to sense earthquakes in advance. Scientists in China have studied the behaviour of such animals under controlled, simulated conditions.

"If domestic animals can sense earthquakes days in advance, forest animals should be able to do that even better. Animals' natural characteristics and capacities are much more evident in forest animals than in the domesticated ones," Dr De Silva observed.

Scientists in China had seen rats coming out of their holes, snakes rushing out of their pits, goats refusing to eat or go into their pens, chicken dashing out of their coops, pigs squealing strangely, birds flying out at night, insects congregating in large numbers near sea shores and cattle rushing to higher ground, much ahead of earth tremors.

Chinese studies have found unusual behaviour of animals like rats, fish and snakes three days prior to a tremor.
Explaining this phenomenon, Dr De Silva said that animals could sense the initial waves from an earthquake called Primary (P) waves, which travelled faster than the Secondary (S) waves by 2 to 4 km per second.

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