Welcome to Day 11 of the A-Z Challenge.
For those of you overseas, no doubt you’ll find meeting today’s guest rather exciting because you may be meeting a kangaroo for the first time. Although I’m Australian born and bred, I still love seeing kangaroos, particularly in the wild as you usually don’t see them very often and contrary to some tourists’ hopes, you won’t find them hopping through the city streets.
During our 3 week trip to Tasmania in January, we were mostly staying with friends out in the bush near Devonport. This meant we were immersed in the local wildlife. There were numerous Bennett’s Wallabies, Kangaroos, birds and my son swears he heard a Tasmanian Devil howling in the night. That was all very special, although our daughter wasn’t so keen on the news of the Devil. You see, we often arrived home from our travels rather late at night and even though they eat dead bodies rather than the living, she didn’t want any up close and personal encounters.
Unfortunately, given that there is so much wildlife in Tasmania, especially of the small hopping variety, too many animals find their way on the roads and end up as what we Australians call “Road Kill”. On average, 32 animals are killed every hour on Tasmanian roads.
‘More animals die per kilometre on Tasmanian Roads than anywhere else in the world,’ says Don Knowler, author of Riding the Devil’s Highway.
‘The scale of road kill in Tasmania is just colossal,’ he says, adding that almost 300,000 animals are killed a year, with some groups putting the figure as high as half a million.
Another problem is secondary road kill. Animals like the very, endangered Tasmanian Devil, are run over while feeding on the road.
When we were driving back from Port Arthur at night, you could see the Bennett’s Wallabies in high numbers beside the road and it wasn’t uncommon to see them hopping across the road not far in front of the car and needing to take preventative measures. Unfortunately, we hit a wallaby and when we turned back we found its dead joey beside it. Naturally, I felt sick and and horrified shock that we’d done that to any kind of animal, especially a mother with her joey. There are wildlife groups, like WIRES, which take in injured animals and try to nurse hem back to the wild. Unfortunately, our wallaby and joey had died on impact.
I should also note that as important as it is to avoid hitting animals on the roads, it is also important to consider your own safety. While I was at university, a friend of mine died swerving to avoid a koala on the road and hit a tree.
These are some of the realities behind all those images you see of cute, fluffy Australian marsupials and thankfully there are people trying to increase awareness of the dangers of road kill and caring for injured animals to reduce the toll.
Yet, more must be done.