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Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 97 [4]

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The Grievers

Photo: Stella Reid, Wildhaven Wildlife Shelter

A couple of interesting passages quoted by Lynda Staker in her invaluable Macropod Husbandry, Healthcare and Medicinals (p.336):

After the death of a kangaroo [I have] observed the friends and family … searching endlessly for their missing friend. I have watched this searching behaviour for up to eight weeks after the death of a kangaroo, and have also watched kangaroos losing the will to live, and dying after losing a close friend or family member. This fact is commonly reported in wildlife rescue circles.

– James Fitzgerald, Vice-president of Wildcare and Native Animal Rescue Group, Vice-chair of NSW Wildlife Council

Not a day goes past when I don’t see one or another of our Eastern Greys from previous generations of releases, or their offspring, hovering around or lying beside the kangaroos’ graves. It is almost as if the site has the same significance for them as it does for me, as if they know that very special members of their tribe lie beneath the ground in this spot

– Brett Clifton, A.C.T.

Photo: Ray Drew

It seems almost too obvious to say, but perhaps not everyone thinks this way: that every kangaroo is a son or daughter, has parents that themselves may be – probably are – the parents of others. That the sons and daughters have brothers, sisters. That there are aunts, uncles, extended family, good friends, best friends. And that every death of a kangaroo, whether a joey from a fox- or eagle-attack, a mother, father, sister or brother from a shooter, or hit by a car, or unable to get through the last drought, causes grief, creates a hole, an absence that is felt, affects the lives of sometimes just a handful, sometimes many others. An attack from shooters can seriously impact upon a group. The cruelty is not alone to the animal who has been shot; the cruelty is to others; to a mob, a community. There is depression; there is deep confusion; there is something that human animals might want to call PTSD. These non-human animals are sentient, are fully conscious. Their lives, like those of human animals – their lives, and the days those lives comprise – are powerfully influenced by emotion.

Photo © Evan Switzer

We’ve discussed some of this in the three posts on what I’ve called ‘the grieving kangaroo photograph’ and I don’t propose to repeat myself. Can kangaroos grieve? You bet they can. And I think it’s reasonable to assume, as in any occupied, war-torn territory, the grief in their lives since white settlement, and particularly in this time of regular and relentless, government-sponsored slaughter, is greater than ever.


This, then, for the grievers.

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