Ten fascinating kangaroo facts from Downunder

I’ve recently been doing something unusual for me: watching television. The television series I’ve been watching is called Kangaroo Dundee. You might already have heard of it as it was fairly popular when it was broadcast, although the first time it was broadcast was some time ago. It follows Brolga, a kangaroo joey fosterer. He lived in a tin shack in the Australian bush where he brought up his orphaned kangaroo joeys as well as the occasional wallaby. I was particularly captivated by Rocky, the black-footed rock wallaby on the show. To say he was brimming with character would be an understatement! I hope he’s lived out a good life on the patch of mountain where Brolga released him at the end of the series. The shack was sited on a 90 acre kangaroo sanctuary which is where he released his orphaned kangaroo joeys once they were old enough to fend for themselves.

According to Brolga’s website, since the television series was broadcast in 2013, things have moved on. Brolga is now living in a ordinary house with his girlfriend, Tahnee, and has built a kangaroo hospital. He raised the money for the hospital by opening up his sanctuary to visitors on ‘Sunset boulevard’ tours. The guides he employed to show the visitors around were native aboriginal people, much to my approval. Aborigines live very close to nature. Their culture nurtures and preserves the natural world so they are the best people to show others the delights of the bush. I get annoyed that a high number of people involved in international wildlife conservation seem to be white Europeans. It’d be much better, I believe, to employ local people in conservation of their native wildlife as they often already have knowledge of their native environment and it would supply them with a source of income. This would potentially stop them from resorting to other means of making money such as poaching. After all if local bush people have the skills to track an animal to kill it for trophies, they already have the skills to track the animals to microchip and monitor them!

The kangaroo facts listed here mostly relate to Australia’s red kangaroo, Macropus rufus

10 fascinating Kangaroo facts

1. Adult male red kangaroos are typically around 5ft 10 inches tall and can weigh up to 90kg. Females are smaller around 26.5kg.

2. Kangaroos are pregnant in the womb for only thirty three days. After this, the baby, still in its embryo stage, goes on an intrepid journey across its mother’s stomach into her pouch. Here the baby will stay for another six months before it next emerges. It takes fourteen to twenty months for a female joey to reach full maturity whilst it’s even longer for males, taking two to four years.

3. Around 200 kangaroos are killed on the roads of Alice Springs every year. Due to the babies developing in the open pouch, it means that it’s possible to rescue the babies. If you’re in Australia, it’s important to check the pouches of dead roadside kangaroos to see if the joeys are still alive in there. Kangaroo joeys that are rescued from the pouch before they’re old enough to have emerged from it in their natural state are called ‘pinkies’. This is because they haven’t yet developed fur. These joeys are put in incubators because they can’t yet regulate their own body temperature, similar to premature human babies, to finish growing.

4. Kangaroos are herbivores. Their diet consists of grass and shrubs. Specialised bacteria live in their gut to help them breakdown the tough food. In the wild joeys have this bacteria passed down to them by their mothers. Obviously if they’ve been orphaned though, this isn’t possible though so joeys find a different way to inherit the bacteria – by eating adult kangaroo droppings!

5. Kangaroos are social animals. A group of them is called a mob. Like most social animals, the mob has a strong pecking order with a alpha male and female at the top of the group.

6. Kangaroos are nocturnal.

7. Kangaroos move by bounding on their hind legs. They are the sprinters, long jumpers and high jumpers of the animal world. As well as moving at a speed of thirty five miles per hour, they can also jump six foot into the air and cover twenty five feet in a single bound.

8. Wallabies are close relatives of the kangaroo. Key differences between the two species are its size and its habitat. Wallabies are much smaller than kangaroos, about the same size as a cat. Wallabies live in forests or mountainous terrain whilst kangaroos are at home on the open plains.

9. The population of the red kangaroo is considered stable by the IUCN (International union for the conservation of nature). Threats to kangaroos include commercial culling, dingoes, bushfires and being killed on the roads.

10. Kangaroos are totem animals in aboriginal culture. As totem animals they are considered to possess stamina, strength and the duel qualities of both ruthless warrior and gentle nurturing. Aborigines also consider them to be ‘Tarner’, meaning creator spirits (Dulumunmun Harrison, M). Eastern grey kangaroos are called, “Gangurru” by the Guuga Yimithirr tribe of Far North Queensland, which is where the name kangaroo comes from. Kangaroos play an important role in aboriginal culture as well as their meat being a staple food source.

To find out more about Kangaroo Dundee visit https://kangaroosanctuary.com/

1. Dulumunmun Harrison, M, Indigenous perspectives https://www.australiaskangaroos.org/indigenous-perspective (Accessed: 21st May 2021)

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