Even though I didn’t personally know Coco, Don, Josh, Lugg, Noah, Pete, Otis, Rex, Sav, or Uno I do feel sad to hear of their deaths.
They have all died after being hit by cars, becoming part of the roadkill we see all too often throughout the Otways. Distressing for all concerned.
Does giving an animal a name makes it personal – more tragic somehow?
Mention Anglesea and often the first thing people think of is kangaroos. That’s because there are lots of them. Everywhere. On the golf course (where the population has ranged from 142 in winter to 359 in summer) and roaming the nearby tracks and loitering in residents’ gardens. Sometimes even on the beach. And they are huge. The Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) can grow to 66 kg (weight 145 lb.) and stands almost 2 m (6.6 ft.).
They are the most common of the largest marsupial in Australia and the population is estimated to be in the millions and spread all along the eastern side of the continent.
Giant kangaroos were one of the megafauna that roamed Australia during the Pleistocene era 1.6 million to 10,000 years ago.
They provided a steady source of lean protein for the Aboriginal population and they hold a central place in Dreamtime mythology. They figure on the Australian Government’s Coat of Arms (along with the emu) and are often chosen as the mascot or animal ambassador for sporting teams and events. Kangaroos, along with koalas, are part of the contemporary Australian ‘brand’.
And we love ‘em. Some of us even remember Skippy. (Did you know that TV series was so popular in Norway that they named a chain of shopping malls after her? – and yes Skippy was a girl.)
But while having the roos living in urban areas is fun and an attraction for tourists, it is not so great for them. As with other wild animals, their proximity to homo sapiens spells danger. Not intentional of course.
Many of these ‘urbanised’ kangaroos are being hit and killed by cars each year.
Most of the kangaroos on the Anglesea golf course have ear tags and/or collars with names. Zoologists from the University of Melbourne have been conducting various studies since 2007, ranging from population surveys, movements, birth control and parasites. These tags and collars help the researchers and Anglesea residents to identify their study animals and record their activities.
But sadly, researchers estimate that 50% of all tagged males and 20% of tagged females have died on roads, mostly during the autumn and winter seasons.
So please, take extra care driving particularly in early morning or evenings through Anglesea and indeed all throughout the Otway Ranges. Descendants of Coco, Don, Josh, Lugg, Noah, Pete, Otis, Rex, Sav, and Uno will thank you.
Ref: Coulson, G., Cripps, J. K and Wilson, M. E. (2014) Hopping down the main street: Eastern Grey Kangaroos at home in an urban matrix. Animals 4, 272-291.
You can read the full article here: http://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/4/2/272/htm
Vintage image of kangaroos from 1880’s German Natural History Book – artist unknown
Image of Otis and Pete Caption:
Photo Credit: Graeme Coulson Pete was killed by a car just the weekend after the photo was taken, and Otis was killed by a car about 8 months later.
Kangaroos on golf course from Visions of Victoria