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University of Queensland scientists have spent the past eight years researching and developing a repellent product using tiger droppings collected from big cats at a Gold Coast theme park.
Scientist Peter Murray said deer innately recognised the tiger as a natural predator and the scent of its droppings scared them off. "We know there is an evolutionary relationship between the animals ... and there's a signal in the faeces the animal recognises as a predator," he said.
Eighteen deer (Family cervidae) species were introduced into Australia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly by acclimatisation societies. The majority of these animals perished. However, six of the liberated species - chital, red deer, rusa deer, fallow deer, hog deer and sambar - survived and went on to form viable wild populations.
In 1980, it was estimated that Australia had about 50,000 wild deer in 20 populations, mainly in the eastern states. But with the emergence of deer farming, this situation began to change. Escapes from deer farms and translocations of deer since the 1980s have seen the number of wild deer in Australia increase to about 200,000 in some 218 populations.