Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Wildlife warfare

When I’ve read accounts of the early days of settlement, I have always been amazed at the reports of the warfare between the farmers and the wallabies. An article in The Queenslander dated March 25, 1882 reports that the life of the farmers "may be summed up thus:-Maize, paling fences, wallabies and brigalow scrub. Every patch of cultivation – and there is an unbroken succession for miles – is enclosed by a paling fence, and every paling fence encloses a field of maize which it protects from the wallabies that infest the scrub.”

My amazement comes from the fact that I have hardly seen any wallabies in this area until this year. Now with the rain and the thick growth of grass we’ve had one frequent visitor to our front paddock. Then today, pulling up in front of our house I frightened two wallabies out of the neighbour’s home yard. Down near the highway, herds of wallabies and kangaroos graze the paddocks opposite the produce merchant at sunset, but I’ve never seen more than one wallaby at a time up here. It’s always fascinating to watch them bound away and spring through the barbed wire fences. I haven’t seen any crops surrounded by paling fences recently, but I wonder if the wallabies will start to be a problem if there has been a rise in population. I suspect not, because there aren’t too many cropping farmers around here. I will, however, keep an eye out for paling fences.

When our old neighbours were here, we rarely saw any mammalian wildlife as they kept pigging dogs and liked them to feed “au natural.” In so many ways, I am happy that they have moved on. We do however have one niggling reminder of their tenure. When they left, they were in a bit of a hurry and didn’t take the time to round up all of their free-range dependents. I’m pretty sure they took the children, but we now have two huge ducks (almost the size of small geese) rummaging through our garden. Yesterday I looked up to see Mr. Blithe divert on his way from coming home to drive around the front paddock chasing these intruders. They don’t seem to be getting the message. I’m very disappointed that the plovers seem to have arranged a truce with them. Perhaps it is something about relative size. I’m wondering about the efficacy of paling fences for ducks.

* With thanks to a local correspondent for sending me the newspaper clipping.

No comments: