They look so innocent.
But my, they have big teeth.
And lots of them.
I’m currently not feeling very friendly towards kangaroos.
Since we finished this year’s main tree planting early I had a chance to go and check on our WOPR planting, a ten hectare plot near the river
We started with direct seeding in 2013, but things didn’t work out well to start with (see here and here). Pigs, cattle, sheep, wombats, fierce heatwaves, weeds: everything seemed to be conspiring against us. But Greening Australia came back with their Green Team and did a tubestock planting and finally things were going well. The neat, contoured, lines of green Greening Australia covers are visible from the Esdale side of the river, but it’s a bit of a jaunt to look more closely at what’s going on. Back in the summer, Matthew Kent and I fought and thrashed our way through the thistles that came up where we sprayed the original rip lines to see how many plants were surviving. Some hadn’t made it, but most were looking pretty okay.
More recently, though, I would have expected to see more substantial growth, not just the same green covers in their lines. It’s always a happy moment when there’s more to see than just corflute and stakes.
Unfortunately, when we got there, that was very much what we saw.
As we opened the gate, the females and joeys had already taken off up the hill, followed by the big males, making their effortless-seeming leaps over the fences.
There was kangaroo poo everywhere, and most of the plants had been horribly pruned back as far as they would go. In the fading afternoon light, they looked like alien ice-blocks.
I was disappointed, as I’d liked the streamlined Greening Australia tubestock planting system compared to the onerous “12 point program” we use. But I’m thinking that possibly the plants simply don’t put on enough growth to get ahead of the wildlife without the extra fertilizer and mycorrhizae we give them.
The kangaroos are definitely a bigger problem the bigger the enclosure. With the small patches they simply don’t make the effort to jump in, maybe worried they won’t have the room to get up speed to jump out again.
I checked for other likely perpetrators of the crime. There was a small amount of wombat digging, but wombats don’t have the reach to pull down and snap off branches as had been happening here. They mostly just bulldoze anything that gets in their way. The digging wasn’t broad or deep enough to be pigs. The sheep and cattle hadn’t been in.
So the heavy pruning was definitely the fault of the kangaroos.
There was also some frost damage, especially on the dodoneas, and that was worse where the covers had blown off. Again, I like our Global Land Repair covers which have a folding foot-piece that helps keep the covers on, plus ours are re-usable.
I made the decision to give all the survivors (about seventy percent) a good feed of liquid Tree Tonic as a fertilizer, to set them going for the spring. Ridiculously, it began to rain on the days we were doing that, but I think the ground was dry enough overall that they will still benefit.
With luck, they may outgrow the predatory kangaroos.
If not, I might take up an offer for some fresh kangaroo on the barbecue.