Traveling on roads in the Aussie bush, a keen eye is always kept on the road for unexpected events. Cars, trucks, flock of sheep, or a bounding Kangaroo. Everyone of these can cause quite a mess of your car, not to mention threaten your safety. As it happen the other day while driving on the road to Alligator Gorge, something caught my eye off to my left. Not enough to feel threatened, but enough for me to pull up once passed the ‘something’, and investigate. My eyes did not fail me, as I looked back from my car I could see a Kangaroo or Wallaby, and it appeared to be struggling.
Sure enough, it was a Wallaby (or young Kangaroo), and it was in trouble. Laying on it’s side with both legs caught fast, twisted in the fence wire. First thought was to free the poor critter, and after the Kanga gave me a not so friendly growl (yes, Kangaroos do growl), I grabbed the tangle wire and separating them just enough for Kanga to pull his legs out. It was only then that I noticed how badly this Kanga was damaged. Both legs were bloodied, and as the Kanga tried to hop away and fell to one side, I noticed that one leg had was worn down to the ligament and to the bone. Ouch! I have to wonder just how long the poor thing had been struggling to get free. Long enough I guess to wear away all of his skin and his flesh. Kanga then tried hopping again, struggling a little further into the bush, before falling again.
It was then that I started thinking about what was the ‘right’ thing to do. Freeing it immediately as I did, or securing it before making any further decisions as to it’s fate. Was it likely that Kanga would now be ok, being free? Was it’s leg broken? Would it probably get an infection and die anyway? Would it now be easy prey? Should I have attempted to rescue it and rung someone? Or should I have put it out of it’s misery?
As the Kanga was now some metres away from me and clearly not receptive to my care and concern, the point was now mute. I returned to my car and resumed my journey. Clearly though, I was now troubled by this encounter. Thoughts ran though my head. My humanistic inner self came up with solutions that my rational realistic self just scoffed at. As a caring human being, should I have ‘saved’ the poor Kanga, or, should I have, as many would do in the bush, decided that the Kanga would probably not survive and end it’s suffering then and there.
These are the questions I am left with. What would have been more compassionate. To free the injured creature to perhaps survive, or, to end it’s suffering by ending its life then and there? I guess, because of my lack of forethought, I will now never know.
Life in the “real world” can be tough. Our insular lives in the city do not remotely prepare us for such situations. I have grown just a little this day.