Fourth Crossing Wildlife

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Rue's End
by Steve McNeil
The photos shown here are not "Rue" and her joey.
These photos were taken in central Queensland.
Our precious wildlife are under severe threat from
roadkill and injury.

Please - slow down!

Finding herself lying on the side of a road, a young mother of two looks around to see what just happened to her. The last thing Rue knew, she was leading her eldest son across the black rock strip which separated her and her children from the picnic ground which lay ahead. The last thing she recalls seeing as she heard a roar coming from their side, was a big red object heading straight for them, and the panicked faces of the people inside.

As Rue gathers her thoughts and studies the scene around her, she quickly becomes aware of the intense pain of her leg and her middle. Looking down at herself, she becomes horrified to see that her leg is pointing in a direction that legs aren't meant to point. Its broken, mangled, with the bone protruding right out of her flesh.

Feeling her youngest child clinging tightly at her belly, she finds it miraculously uninjured, and quickly scans for her son, whom, only a few seconds ago, was following at her heel. It was at that moment, as she looked back in the direction that they'd come from, that all her own pain just vanished into the mother's worst nightmare. Only metres away, with his own busted leg, her son lay dead.

Rue tries to get up. She can't. Even with one good leg, the sudden immense pain in her pelvis makes it impossible for her to rise. She tries to drag herself with her hands, but even this she can't do.

As she now becomes aware of those people, whose horrified faces she had seen only moments ago, she notices that they're standing above her, speaking in some strange language that she doesn't understand, she tries to move away from them. Again, she can't move. After just breaking her body, and killing her child, she can only find it in her to fear what they'll do to her next. Defenceless against them, she can only lie there as the people place one of their strange furs over her head, and feel around near her baby. The fear, pain and grief, rack her body and soul like angry thunder.

Time begins to pass with no further event. Knowing that there was nothing else to do but lie there in this new darkness, Rue's panic and fear begin to calm just a little. Rue has trouble keeping count of the time, with her mind swimming with the pain, as well as her memories of seeing her son joyfully playing in fields of fresh scented grass on crisp, late summer mornings. She remembers, from not so long ago, her young son's first reprimand from an aunty who he'd mistakenly tried to cuddle into, and the frightened look on his mischievous face, as he came tearing back to her to bury himself in her loving arms. Rue wept.

At some point in time, the strange-speaking people removed their covering, and ventured away. She watched as they disappeared into the distance. Rue was alone now, left to lay there looking at her dead child, which for all her effort, she couldn't get to. At regular intervals, more people would tear along the black rock between her and her boy's body. With each person that passed, so did that deafening, angry roar. Each one sent bolts of terror through her.

Soon, one person stopped. This one also spoke in that strange language. This person was quickly followed by some more. As some stood around looking at her, one of the people approached. This person gave Rue little time to react, as they covered her head over. Rue let out a growl of fear and pain, and as she tried to struggle the covering off her head, the person lay over her and held her still. The voices got a little louder and faster then. "This is it," Rue thought, as she felt a sharp pain in her good leg. Once again, the fear in her flared up. Rue was convinced that they were going to finish her off, now. But it was not herself that she feared for the most, but the baby which lie suckling at her front.

Slowly, everything started to dull. Her hearing, her pain, her thoughts. As the sliver of light that she could still see, also faded from her sight, or at least from her care, she could only lay there helpless again, drifting lazily through various memories of her life. She thought of the hopes she had for her children; wondered if her family knew where she was; remembered her own childhood, growing up under her own older brother, before he went off to find his own place in life. She thought of her mother, and of how loved she'd been at her mother's side. Rue only hoped that she had loved her own children enough, taking the smallest comfort in that hope, that her children could at least die, knowing that they had been loved, to the fullest of their mother's ability.

Somewhere in the distance of her awareness, rue could still hear that strange language being spoken. As it became slightly louder, someone had pulled the covering off of her head again. The voices became silent. She tried to focus her sight, but could only manage to see blurred shapes and shades of colour.

Rue heard someone approach. A small, half-hearted effort was all she could manage, to lift her head in curiosity. Sleepily, she gave up, and lowered her head back down to the ground. One second later, someone held something like a shiny branch over her head.

Next... nothing.

This story is based on a real life rescue situation, in Victoria. On arrival at the scene, two volunteer rescuers discovered a female Eastern Grey Kangaroo with a broken leg and apparent broken back or pelvis, lying on the roadside. Across the road was a dead male, at-foot joey, which the mother seemed sadly focused on, and vainly tried to reach. She had been hit by a car less than an hour prior, and on advice from a wildlife service, the driver of the car had lain a jumper on the Kangaroo's head, in order to lessen stress on the animal. The driver and passenger had decided not to wait long, as they removed the jumper and left the scene before help arrived. Rescuers soon did arrive, placing a new covering over the kangaroo, as well as giving her a sedative (lawfully) to further ease her stress, as well as her pain. At this point, they discovered that in addition to the at-foot joey, this mother also had a very small joey in her pouch. Due to the busyness of the site, under sedation, the rescuers had to relocate the Kangaroo a short distance, where they met with a shooter, who could euthanize the mother Kangaroo as humanely as possible, with a "Shiny Branch" (rifle). As soon as the mother was "at peace", the pouch young was removed. Being far too small to be hand-raised, this joey, also, was euthanized humanely.

Due to one driver's lack of knowledge or concentration, three lives were unnecessarily ended that day.

Please, slow down.
Fourth Crossing Wildlife
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