Monday, 21 September 2015

Campground slaughter of wombats reminds us people are far more dangerous than snakes or spiders

The wanton killing of 10 wombats at the weekend reflects our fear of the bush along with our fundamental ignorance about this particular marsupial

Monday 21 September 2015 04.48 BSTLast modified on Monday 21 September 201506.02 BST

This weekend’s hideous killing of 10 wombats at a large and popular public campground, in the back country behind Nowra on the NSW south coast, reflects a primal Australian fear of the outback combined with a fundamental national misconception about one of our favourite marsupials.

There has a been a national outpouring of rage on social media since the incident because it was essentially, and if the alleged facts are correct, a case of Ruth Park’s Muddle-headed Wombat meets Wolf Creek.

On a continent as large, empty and wild as ours there is nothing more terrifying to the collective psyche than sharing the blaring Milky Way, in the middle of nowhere, with an intoxicated psychopath – except maybe to be mauled by a great white shark. And when a drunk bully is not quite evil and insane enough to take on fellow humans, the next worst thing is to go out and slaughter the national emblem of dopiness and befuddlement: the humble, fat, lazy wombat.

By all accounts what happened at the weekend was a senseless slaughter perpetrated by extraordinarily antisocial fools and proof, yet again, that rogue people are way more dangerous than spiders, snakes and crocodiles.

But no matter how frightening Friday night must have been for all those others who were also at the campground (human and marsupial) it plays into two stereotypes: that camping is a dangerous lottery and that wombats are dumb and defenceless.

No doubt the reason that those who decided it would be good sport to run over a few wombats felt justified in doing so because the animals are the butt of a lot of jokes.

Police investigate after wombats found dead at Kangaroo Valley campsite

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