Washington, Jan 10 (ANI): Researchers have found that a specific bark by the male Cheetah triggers ovulation in the females of the species.
Unlike other cat species, female cheetahs ovulate rarely and at unusual times. They also lack a regular reproductive cycle.
All this makes them tough to breed in captivity.
Now, according to a report in National Geographic News, a team of bioacoustics experts studying cheetah vocalizations stumbled onto the discovery that a specific bark by the males triggers the female reproductive system to release eggs.
"They noticed that the male's "stutter bark" was made days before breeding took place," said research leader Matt Anderson at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
Because calls unique to a single gender are often associated with reproduction, Anderson and his colleagues took a closer look.
The team introduced a sexually mature female cheetah to two males during a series of experiments, recording calls made by the cats and monitoring the hormones found in their feces.
They discovered that male stutter-bark calls triggered increases in the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone in the females' feces.
By recording and analyzing stutter-bark rates, the researchers showed that increases in stutter-barking steadily raised the female reproductive hormones responsible for ovulation.
"We never expected to see such a tight link between the vocalization and the hormone levels," Anderson said of the research. "This came a real surprise," he added.
Experts said that using sound to jump-start reproduction is common among birds, but in mammals it is almost unheard of.
According to the researchers, the finding has big implications for breeding the rare cat.
The cheetah has an estimated adult population of only 7,500, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The only known wild cheetah population outside of Africa today is a critically endangered group of fewer than a hundred in Iran.
"By documenting how sound makes animals horny, we hope to improve conservation-breeding programs," said co-researcher Fred Berkovitch, an ecologist at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. (ANI)