Australia's jump in kangaroo attacks

Australia's jump in kangaroo attacks

A marsupial intruder has left a 94-year-old Queensland woman hospitalized in yet another 'roo attack

KangarooBe wary of an angry kangaroo.After years of ritualistic culling and their methane-free meat being served up for lunch and dinner around the country, it seems the kangaroo is fighting back.

In the latest outback attack, the world’s largest marsupial went for a 94-year-old mammal.

Phyllis Johnson was hanging out her washing in her Charleville backyard, 758 kilometers west of Brisbane, when she had an unexpected guest. A big red kangaroo bounded over her fence, into her backyard, ploughed through clothes and made a bee-line straight for the old woman.

“I thought it was going to kill me,” Ms. Johnson told Brisbane’s The Courier Mail. “This one seemed to target me, it was putting its feet into me and kicking.”

“I happened to have a broom nearby and I just started swinging it,” she said. “I bashed it on the head but it kept going for me.”

As Ms. Johnson crawled across her backyard, she looked around for help. Her dog retreated from the angry beast, too frightened to be her best friend. Her son, Rob, then entered the fray, but his attempts to move the intruder along proved futile.

Who you gonna call? The local police. When two of the local constabulary were called into action, the fight was on –- the fearless animal lunged at them, too.

“One officer had to deploy his (pepper) spray on the animal and it ran away,” Sergeant Stephen Perkins told The Courier-Mail.

But it wasn’t over yet. “(It) saw the other police officer out of the corner of its eye,” Sergeant Perkins said. “The other officer had to deploy his spray to keep from getting hurt.”

Kangaroo attacks

The vegetarian hoppers are largely peaceful animals who first stare, then flee upon human contact. But when forced to fight in self-defense their lunging claws, powerful hind legs and whooshing tails make them worthy opponents –- to strong men, yet alone old ladies.

In 2009, farmer Chris Rickard (49), after saving his dog from being drowned by a kangaroo near Melbourne, vowed from his hospital bed, with gashes to his forehead, chest and abdomen, that he’d never watch "Skippy" again.

And last year, 77 year-old Alan Jones reported to that he was unexpectedly attacked. “(It) came straight for me, uttering a kind of hissing sound. It knocked me to the ground,” he said.

The attack, on Emerald beach near Coffs Harbour, on the New South Wales north coast, was around the kangaroo attack hot spot, where a third of recorded kangaroo attacks occur, including on young children.

Some attacks have been captured on YouTube.

The attacks are not confined to Australia: an escaped kangaroo attacked a policeman in Durham, England, while the mystery of an unconscious man in the Netherlands was solved when it was discovered a kangaroo had escaped from a traveling circus.

But still, there is only one recorded death by kangaroo attack. In 1936, a NSW man was savaged when trying to intervene in a fight between the beast and his two dogs.

This contained a typical element of kangaroo attacks: dogs. Also, they are more likely to attack during drought when food and water is scarce, and the majority of attacks are caused by people feeding them -- and when they don’t get what they expect, they can get a little annoyed.

Back in Charleville

Ms. Johnson was taken to the local hospital, where she said, “I used to feed them next door, give them some bread, and they’ve always been so gentle.”

The senior citizen is expected to make a full recovery from the unexpected attack. “I’m OK,” she said. “Although the ‘roo took a chunk of flesh out of my leg and there’s a chance they’ll have to operate.”

Maybe Ms. Johnson can get her own back at the local butcher.