Seeking clues from animal behaviour

A worker feeds chickens at a poultry farm in Yong Peng, Malaysia.
A worker feeds chickens at a poultry farm in Yong Peng, Malaysia.PHOTO: REUTERS

NANJING • The seismological bureau in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing has transformed seven animal farms into seismic stations, believing that monitoring the behaviour of certain animals can help forecast earthquakes.

Breeders brief the bureau on the animals twice a day and report abnormal behaviour as soon as possible through QQ - Chinese instant messaging software - reported the Modern Express newspaper.

Possible abnormal behaviour includes chickens flying atop trees instead of eating, large numbers of fish leaping out of water or toads moving home, said Mr Zhou Hongbing, a breeder turned animal monitor at Banqiao Ecological Park, one of the refurbished animal farms.

Cameras have been set up across the park that is home to 200 black boars, 2,000 chickens and a 6.6ha fish pond.

"Seismological experts will analyse reported abnormalities to decide whether or not a possible earthquake is imminent," said Mr Zhou.

"When it's too hot, chickens may also fly atop trees to seek cool shelter."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2015, with the headline 'Seeking clues from animal behaviour'. Print Edition | Subscribe