Saturday, January 7, 2017

Australia: Brave father saves children from wild kangaroo attack

AUSTRALIA -- Two little girls have their heroic father to thank for saving them from an attack by an aggressive kangaroo on Christmas Eve.

The family, from Elderslie, headed to Lake Conjola, near Ulladulla, to celebrate Christmas, but were faced with a situation which could have ruined their holiday.

Matthew Chenhall was walking about 30 seconds behind his daughters Holly, 11, and Amelia, 9, on a rural property when the girls were stopped in their tracks by a 2m (~5 foot tall) kangaroo who appeared to be acting aggressively.

Amelia threw the sausage which was in her hand to lure it away but after eating the food, it came back for more.

“It started to growl and got itself into an attacking position so I got myself between him and the girls straight away,” Mr Chenhall said.

“He got me into a head lock with one claw and tore my ear apart with the other. I managed to get one hand around and put one on his chin before he let me go.”

Substantially injured and dazed, Mr Chenhall told his daughters to head back to their mother Janyne at their camp site and he followed closely behind.

“I had some blood spluttering out of my ear so I wanted to clean that up a bit before the girls saw it because they were quite traumatized,” he said.

An ambulance was called which took Mr Chenhall to Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital. Luckily, a plastic surgeon was available who treated his torn ear with 12 stitches.

“The doctors told me it was really lucky that I managed to get in between him and the kids,” he said.

“They said if it did that to me, imagine what it could have done to them. It could have killed them.”

Mr Chenhall returned to the Lake Conjola site at 4am on Christmas Day to be with his family. After the incident, he said he spoke with wildlife experts who told him people feeding kangaroos made them more aggressive.

“They become desensitized to humans feeding them. And so when they don’t get any more food or the food runs out they can become aggressive,” he said.

Information on the Office of Environment and Heritage website instructs people not to feed kangaroos.

“Unnatural food sources often create unbalanced kangaroo numbers, and cause aggressive behavior and sickness,” it reads.

According to the information, Mr Chenhall’s incident was rare with only five people in NSW treated for kangaroo-related injuries each year.

People are also warned not to walk directly towards a kangaroo and completely avoid ones that are growling or clucking.

Mr Chenhall said he was unsure whether it was an eastern grey or red kangaroo.

(Daily Telegraph - January 6, 2017)