05-09-17 - Interview with a kangaroo
G’day, from Australia. In our series Interview with Australians we have Cobber as our guest today. Cobber is a kangaroo who lives in the heart of Australia, in the Outback.
Cobber, thank you so much for coming here and doing this interview with us.
No worries, mate.
Cobber, could you tell our readers, please, what it’s like to live here in the hot and dry hinterland.
Absolutely. You know, for us it is quite normal. We are used to it. Our species has lived here for tens of thousands of years. For you humans, this part of the country is not so nice to live in. You are not used to it. I must correct this statement. Most of you are not able to live here without your cooling and heating systems in your homes. There have been some humans who have lived here almost as long as we have and for them it’s no problem to live here. But you, the pale ones, would die without your protection.
Yes, that is very likely true. At least for myself I can say that you are right. We always have to make sure to take enough water with us when we go out here. Why isn’t that a problem for you?
Not at all. First of we know where the water sources are, meaning the rivers, billabongs and such. We know the season too so when we know that there will be a water shortage, we just fill up on more water and can live without water intake for a few days. During the rainy season we also take in water through eating the wet grass. If there is no water hole around we just stomp our feet on the ground, dig deep until we reach water. You would probably say we can smell it, but we are just clever.
Are you herbivores?
Completely. We don’t eat any meat at all. Okay, sometimes we do eat some insects too, but that’s not our normal diet. Unlike you humans who also like to eat us.
Yes, sorry about that. But we are technically omnivores although more and more people go vegan. I would like to go back to what you said about your time of existence here. You said tens of thousands of years?
Yes, we have roamed this continent for a long long time. I can’t tell you the exact date but it has been a very long time. Millions of years. We were even here long before the first humans settled here. And I’m not talking about the white humans. I’m talking about the black ones. Did you know that they tell in their stories that we are the creators of this land? That’s how old we are!
Wow, really? Can you tell us such a story?
Well, it really depends on who you ask as different people have different stories. Since they also speak different languages the names they have given us are different too. Here’s a story the Yinggarda people of Mundatharrda which is the Kennedy Range in the Northwestern region tell. Back in the time of creation which those people call Dreamtime there was the big snake Wannamungura. It was a huge snake because it created the soaring expanses of the Kennedy Range. The snake was accompanied by the hill kangaroo, the Bigurda, which is a smaller type of kangaroo.
That is fascinating. So there are different types of kangaroo?
Australia has four kangaroo species—red, eastern grey, western grey and antilopine.
Biologically speaking you belong to the marsupials. That’s what we call the animals that have a pouch.
That is correct. However, only the females have a pouch in which we carry our joeys, that’s what we call our babies, until they are old enough to live on their own. Of course they don’t get born in there. But immediately after their birth they are uided into the pouch and that is where they stay in until they are old enough to live alone. Did you know that the joeys are only as big as a bee when they are born? Pretty small, ey? I must admit, they are sometimes a true burden to carry. You think they should be old enough to leave home but some are just lazy bums who prefer to stay home with mum just a bit longer. It’s usually the boys though. It’s like hotel mama in combination with being their taxi driver. I can’t think of a single mum who wasn’t glad when filius finally decided to leave.
Tell me about it. It’s not so much different with us either. How old do kangaroos get in average?
You mean when they are not run over by a car or truck or shot by humans to get eaten? About eight to twelve years in the wild. That’s pretty good for a kangaroo. If all goes well the females give birth to many joeys during their adulthood. They can give birth to four at the same time, although it’s not very common.
Sorry about the killing part. Luckily so far I haven’t run over a kangaroo. But I know what you mean, I’ve seen many dead ones along the roads. It’s not so easy though to prevent those deaths. When I was on the west coast I found a kangaroo who had just been hit by car. It was lying in the middle of the road and was still breathing. It was so sad. All I could do was pull it off the road and pet his head for a bit. I didn’t know what else to do.
Yes, tragic, indeed. You would think we have got used to the cars. Unfortunately they are still not part of our lives.
Do you have any idea how many kangaroos there are in Australia? You only exist in Australia, correct?
No, no, we live in New Guinea too. But we are mostly known in Australia. About the number, well, you can roughly say we triple the number of humans in Australia.
What? That would mean you are about 60 million!
Ay, mate. Sounds about right.
Wow, what an amount. Now, what does a typical day for you look like?
Well, after the sun has risen we soon go to bed so to say. The days are usually too hot to be out and about much. We linger in cooler areas, sleep under some trees or bushes and just wait for the sun to set. Then we start to become active really. We wander about and go and find some food. We graze and hop around and graze some more. We do that in small groups or alone. The young ones are taught the things they need to learn. But they also play with their friends. We do that well at night because our eyesight is very good in the dark. This is basically what we do during the night until the sun rises again. And then repeat.
Sounds like a good life.
It is if you know how to evade the dangers. Here I’m not talking about the humans. We have our natural enemies. There are the dingoes, hawks, and eagles. And you humans of course. The dingoes hunt and kill us. The birds usually go after our little ones because they are lighter and can’t defend themselves.
I guess that’s the circle of life then.
Yes, it sounds cruel and of course it is when it hits someone of your family. But you are right, it’s part of life.
One last question before we conclude this interview: What is your greatest wish?
Hmm, my greatest wish? I want to see that big rock that everyone is talking about. It’s supposed to be here in Australia, here in the outback somewhere, but I haven’t seen it yet. I would love to see it and listen to the story about it then.
Yes, I agree. I would love to see that, too. Maybe we should o to Uluru together, then. Thank you very much for your time and for this interview. All the best to you
No worries, mate. Thank you, too.