Die karakterisering van die reukmerkvloeistof van die Bengaalse tier, Panthera Tigris Tigris
Thesis (MSc (Botany and Zoology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.
Although the Bengal tiger, Panthera tigris tigris, appears on the IUCN Red Data List for endangered animals, very little information is available in the literature on the components of this animal's marking fluid. Scent marking is the main form of communication in all cat species. In some species, including the Bengal tiger, the liquid used for spraying is not pure urine, but is mixed with scent gland secretions. The objective of this study was to characterise the volatile components in the marking fluid of the Bengal tiger to achieve a better understanding of the semiochemical communication of this animal. The marking fluid of the tiger was characterised through the use of analytical techniques, such as gaschromatography, low resolution gas chromatography - mass spectrometry and retention time comparison. Homologous series of alkanes, alcohols, aldehydes, methyl ketones, carboxylic acids, γ- and δ-lactones, amides and lactams, as well as esters and nitrogen containing compounds, were identified. Of these identified compounds the unbranched alkanes, saturated alcohols, aldehydes, branched methyl ketones, saturated carboxylic acids and γ- and δ- lactones are commonly found in mammalian secretions. Compounds that aren't as common in their secretions are the methyl ketones, branched carboxylic acids, dimethyl esters of dicarboxylic acids and amides. The marking fluid contains a phthalic acid ester. Phthalic acid esters are used in the polymer industry and are nowadays found almost everywhere in nature. It is known that these pollutants have endocrine disrupting properties. The heat, humidity and wet conditions that are characteristic of the Bengal tiger's natural habitat makes it necessary for the tiger to make use of a fixative to prolong the life of the semiochemical message. The compounds and the concentrations in which these compounds are present in the urine and the lipid fraction of the marking fluid of the tiger was determined and compared to assess the fixative role of the lipids. This study has provided evidence that the lipid material has a greater affinity for the volatile organic constituents of the marking fluid and that it can therefore extend the lifetime of a semiochemical message left by the tiger.