Tsunami adds to belief in animals' "sixth sense" 30 Dec 2004 10:51:31 GMT Source: Reuters By Ed Stoddard JOHANNESBURG, Dec 30 (Reuters) - 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 on Wednesday. The waves washed floodwaters up to 3 km (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 behaviour specialist at Johannesburg Zoo. "There have been no specific studies because you can't really test it in a lab or field setting," he told Reuters. 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 wildlife. 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. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Note from AA: I certainly believe that animals do have a "sixth sense" that alerts them to danger. When the Midwest had an earthquake out of the Ozarks some years back, my two cats were outside and, shortly before the quake began shaking things up, they ran to the back door puffed up about twice their normal size. I thought there must be a dog out in the yard chasing them, so I went outside to investigate. That's when the effects of the quake became visible. Flower pots and potted plants that we had on a shelf in the patio area started jumping up and down and you could feel the shaking of the ground. My cats picked that up before we felt the effects, and they were frightened.