Argus Bird Can Sense Earthquake

Argus’s ability to detect earthquakes could be explained scientifically

Jum'at, 23 Oktober 2009, 14:58 Amril Amarullah

VIVAnews - Predicting the coming of an earthquake is truly not an easy job. Even with the most sophisticated devices, scientists all over the world always deny the information saying that earthquakes could strike in an exact time.

Finally, Chinese scientists recently used another way to detect earthquakes which is by studying animal behaviors such as peacocks, toads, snakes, deers and squirrels.

Recently, a researcher from West Sumatra has found another type of animal to be studied. The Argus birds.

Coordinator of West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Centre Ade Edwar said although there had not been any research on earthquake-detecting animals, Argus birds are believed to be having instinct on knowing when an earthquake will hit.

The members of the Argusianus birds family are said to be able to sense an earthquake one or two days before it is coming.

According to Wikipedia, there are at least two types of Argus birds residing in Indonesia: Argus King (Argusianus argus) and Double-banded Argus (Argusianus bipunctatus).

Double-banded Argus has been declared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as extinct animals while Argus King are one of the protected animals.

In West Sumatra, Argus birds are more popularly known as Ruwai. The species could only be found in the forests of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Malaysia.

According to Edwar, argus’s ability to detect earthquakes could be explained scientifically because in theory, preliminary shocks always occur before the earthquakes. “Geologically, small earthquakes will hit one or two days before the major ones,” he said.

Using the instinct of the Argus birds, he believes the theory could be further tested. According to the information, the birds have huge bodies.

The length of the bodies could be up to 120 cm-long and weigh 11.5 kg. Due to its large physical size, the birds are often called “The Great Argus”.

Several groups of explorers in West Sumatra claimed they once saw the gigantic birds in the forest of Bukit Barisan area. The size and the shape of their feathers are not much different than peacocks's.

In accordance to the Ministerial Decree No. 421 / 1970, Argus are protected birds and their locations are hard to find. “Argus could be indicating earthquakes through their thundering sounds. But these birds are hard to locate,“ Edwar said.

With the sounds that could reach up to 1 km long, it seems like a good idea to use Argus as an early warning system. The birds produce sounds that resemble their names.

If Argus’s ability could be scientifically proven, the presence of these birds would surely be needed in Indonesia’s earthquake-prone regions.

Edwar also said before the destructive earthquake hit three weeks ago, his neighbor, who keeps an Argus as a pet, was confused by the bird’s behavior.

“The bird was fidgeting and made sounds that indicate its fear,“ he said. Unfortunately, the bird was also killed when the house of its owner was knocked down by the 7.9-magnitude earthquake.


Translated by: Nataya Ermanti

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