IELTSData Reading Passage 112 – Health in the Wild

IELTSData Reading Passage 112 – Health in the Wild

Health in the Wild

Many animals seem able to treat their illness themselves. Humans may have a thing or two to learn from them.

{A} For the past decade Dr. Engel, a lecturer in environmental sciences at Britain’s Open University, has been collating examples of self-medicating behavior in wild animals. She recently published a book on the subject. In a talk at the Edinburgh Science festival earlier this month, she explained that the idea that animals can treat themselves has been regarded with some skepticism by her colleagues in the past. But a growing number of animal behaviorists now think that wild animals can and do deal with their own medical needs.

{B} One example of Self-medication was discovered in 1987. Michael Huffman and Mohamedi Seifu, working in the Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania, noticed that local chimpanzees suffering from intestinal worms would dose themselves with the pith of a plant called Veronica. This plant produces poisonous chemicals called terpenes. Its pith contains a strong enough concentration to kill gut parasites, but not so strong as to kill chimps (nor people, for that matter; locals use the pith for the same purpose). Given that the plant is known locally as “goat-killer”, however, it seems that not all animals are as smart as chimps and humans. Some consume it indiscriminately and succumb.

{C}  Since the Veronica-eating chimps were discovered more evidence has emerged suggesting that animals often eat things for medical rather than nutritional reasons. Many species, for example, consume dirt a behavior is known as geophagy. Historically, the preferred explanation was that soil supplies minerals, and also in places where minerals can be more easily obtained from certain plants that are known to be rich in them. Clearly, the animals must be getting something else out of eating earth.

{D} the current belief is that soil and particularly the clay in it helps to detoxify the defensive poisons that some plants produce in an attempt to prevent themselves from being eaten. Evidence for the detoxifying nature of clay came in 1999, from an experiment carried out on macaws by James Gilardi and his colleagues at the University of California, Davis. Macaws eat seeds containing alkaloids, a group of chemicals that has some notoriously toxic members, such as strychnine. In the wild, the birds are frequently seen perched on eroding riverbanks eating clay. Dr. Gilardi fed one group of macaws a mixture of a harmless alkaloid in their bloodstreams than those that had not, suggesting that the hypothesis is correct.

{E} Other observations also support the idea that clay is detoxifying. Towards the tropics, the amount of toxic compounds in plants increase-and so does the amount of earth eaten by herbivores. Elephants lick clay from mud holes all year round, except in September when they are bingeing on fruit which, because it has evolved to be eaten, is not toxic. And the addition of clay to the diets of domestic cattle increases the number of nutrients that they can absorb from their food by 10-20%.

{F} The third instance of animal self-medication is the use of mechanical scours to get rid of gut parasites. In 1972 Richard Wrangham, a researcher at the Gombe Stream Reserve in Tanzania, noticed that chimpanzees were eating the leaves of a tree called Aspilia. The chimps chose the leaves carefully by testing them in their mouths. Having chosen a leaf, a chimp would fold it into a fan and swallow it. Some of the chimps were noticed wrinkling their noses as they swallowed these leaves, suggesting the experience was unpleasant. Later, undigested leaves were found on the forest floor.

{G} Dr. Wrangham rightly guessed that the leaves had a medicinal purpose- this was, indeed, one of the earliest interpretations of a behavior pattern as self-medication. However, he guessed wrong about what the mechanism was. His (and everybody else’s) assumption was that Aspilia contained a drug, and this sparked more than two decades of photochemical research to try to find out what chemical the chimps were after. But by the 1990s, chimps across Africa had been seen swallowing the leaves of 19 different species that seemed to have few suitable chemicals in common. The drug hypothesis was looking more and more dubious.

{H} It was Dr. Huffman who got to the bottom of the problem. he did so by watching what came out of the chimps, rather than concentrating on what went in. He found that the egested leaves were full of intestinal worms. The factor common to all 19 species of leaves swallowed by the chimps was that they were covered with microscopic hooks. These caught the worms and dragged them from their lodgings.

{I} Following that observation, Dr angel is now particularly excited about how knowledge of the way that animals look after themselves could be used to improve the health of livestock. people might also to learn a thing or two- and may, indeed, already have done so. geophagy, for example, is a common behavior in many parts of the world. The medical stalls in African markets frequently sell tablets made of different sorts of clays, appropriate to different medical conditions.

{J} Africans brought to the Americas as slaves continued this tradition, which gave their owners one more excuse to affect to despise them. Yet, as dr Engel points out, Rwandan mountain gorillas eat a type of clay rather similar to the kaolinite-the main ingredient of many patent medicines sold over the counter in the West for digestive complaints. Dirt can sometimes be good for you, and to be “;as sick as a parrot” may, after all, be a state to be desired.

Questions 1-4 IELTSData Reading Passage 112 – Health in the Wild
Do the following statements agree with the information given in IELTSData Reading Passage 112 – Health in the Wild Reading Passage 1? in boxes 1-4 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement is true

FALSE if the statement is false

NOT GIVEN if the information is not given in the passage

Question 1 . It is for 10 years that Dr. Engel has been working on animal self-medication.

Question 2 . In order to find plants for medication, animals usually need to walk a long distance.

Question 3 . Birds such as Macaw are seen eating clay because it is a part of their natural diet.

Question 4 . According to Dr. Engel, it is exciting that research into animal self-medication can be helpful in the invention of new painkillers.

IELTSData Reading Passage 112 – Health in the Wild Questions 5-9 
Complete the notes below using No More Than One Word from the IELTSData Reading Passage 112 – Health in the Wild passage. Write your answers in boxes 5-9 on your answer sheet.

Date Name Animal Food Mechanism
1987 Michael Huffman and Mohamedi seifu  Chimpanzee 5………………. of Veronica Contained chemicals named 6…………….which can kill parasites.
1999 James Gilardi and his colleagues Macaw Seeds (contain 7…………….) and clay Clay can 8…………… the poisonous contents in food.
1972 Richard Wrangham Chimpanzee Leaves with tiny 9…………….. on surface Such leaves can catch and expel worms from the intestines.

IELTSData Reading Passage 112 – Health in the Wild Questions 10-13

Complete the summary below using words from the box.

write your answers, A-H, in boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet.

Animal self-medication has been supported by an increasing amount of evidence. One of them is called 10…………….., a soil-consuming behavior commonly found across animals species. Because earth, especially clay, can neutralize the 11…………. content of their diet. Similar behavior can also be found among humans in Africa, where patients will buy 12……………….. at medical stalls to heal them. Another one is related to chimps who eat leaves with 13………….. taste probably, but with medicinal value due to their special 14……………………

 A . mineral           B . plants                    C . unpleasant                D . toxic 

E .  Clay tablets      F . nutritional      G . geophagy           H . harmless     I.  Structure

IELTSData Reading Passage 112 – Health in the Wild Answers

(1) TRUE




(5) PITH





(10) G

(11) D

(12) E 

(13) C

(14) I

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