When two police officers in Australia saw a kangaroo drowning in the ocean, they jumped straight in and rescued the poor animal. This despite the fact that kangaroos are seen as a “plague” by the government and are killed off in large numbers.
The kangaroo had hopped off into the sea earlier for a swim, but was caught up in a riptide. The animal was rescued by an onlooker, Mia Grant, who was filming it. Once the kangaroo was dragged back to shore, Mia called in the police. When Sergeants Christopher Russo and Kirby Tonkin arrived at the scene, the animal reportedly got scared and jumped into the ocean again.
The two sergeants went after the creature and pulled it back to safety. “He had less than a minute… he went under and as he came up you could see foam coming out of his nose. He was drowning,” said Sgt. Russo (People). They performed chest compressions on the animal to clear its lungs of water. Fortunately, the animal started breathing properly.
The kangaroo was taken to the local police station and then transferred to a local animal wildlife shelter. “We will let him recover at his own pace, but he has a paddock full of grass and lots of water to drink and he seems very happy with that,” Michelle Thomas, director of the shelter, said to the BBC.
Australia’s kangaroo problem
Despite being the popular face of Australia, kangaroos have been viewed as a nuisance by the citizens of late. This mostly has to do with their huge population. As per government data, there were 44 million kangaroos in Australia in 2015, which is two kangaroos for every single human. In 2013, the population had peaked at 53 million. Such large numbers have resulted in the animals encroaching upon farmlands and causing havoc on the roadways.
“There is some research from the Australian National University and Deakin University that supports the claim that they are having an impact on agriculture and the environment. The research shows that large numbers of kangaroos can reduce the occurrence of native grasses, which livestock graze on, and can also affect the diversity and cover of shrubs and the quality of habitat for various native species, including beetles, reptiles, birds, and bandicoots,” according to ABC News.
The situation became so dire that the government initiated an annual culling of the animals, a move that has been strongly opposed by animal activists, but greatly supported by some scientists. There is a curious reason why kangaroos seem to thrive — human beings took out their natural predators and created an imbalance.
“We used to have a huge number of top predators like the Tasmanian tiger. However, indigenous overhunting took them out, and then settlers culled predators like dingoes. Now, the bush is a bountiful food locker with lots of grass and water, and few predators other than the car,” Professor David Lindenmayer, a landscape ecology expert from the Australian National University, said to the BBC.
In 2016, Australia is said to have culled about 1.6 million kangaroos. This year, the government has reportedly set a target of culling more than a million.