Yesterday afternoon, I decided that it would be a good idea to keep driving after sunset, in order to make Exmouth instead of sleeping at the side of the road somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
Of course, we haven't done any driving after sunset because of the real risk of running into a kangaroo - the dreaded 'roo strike'.
Guess what happened?
Shortly before eight o'clock, I hit a kangaroo. We'd just stopped to have a sandwich, got back on the road, and I felt confident enough to push the speed up to about eighty kph (up from about seventy, what I'd been doing since sunset). Within two minutes, I saw some roos on the right hand side of the road, slowed down, watched them start bounding across to the left hand side, and then kept the wheel steady while braking, watching the car steer itself into a kangaroo.
It made a loud thud, but the car still handled correctly. Dan had a quick look at the front of the car to check for damage (he couldn't find any, thankfully), and then, a bit giddy, I got the bright idea to turn around and have a look to see what I'd done to the kangaroo.
Well, I could see that it wound up on the side of the road. Stopping the car with the roo in the headlights, I could see that it was either dead or about to be dead in a short period of time: there were broken bones jutting up, and it wasn't moving. (The ears twitched briefly, but I'm fairly sure that was just the wind kicking up.) However, I then noticed that there was something else lying on the road in front of it. I thought, whoa, I must have severed something, but then I looked and thought again, and yup, it was a joey. Or, rather, what I've heard folks term 'pouch young'. It was awfully small, about the size of a candy bar, but bright pink and obviously still very much alive.
So, that's my bad luck. Not only did I kill a mother, I left its child out on the road to die.
I've killed a number of animals over the year, none intentionally, but I have to say that killing something this big feels different. I've hit at least ten birds and countless insects on this trip, and that's been generally OK, but damn those charismatic megafauna, it just feels different when it's a large animal and/or a helpless infant, especially when you know that the infant is going to die a prolonged death as it has no chance of rescue either by another animal or a human - there are simply no facilities to take care of infant roos, and as they're far from endangered, there really isn't much point to it either.
I've eaten my share of roo fillets on this trip, so I obviously don't have a problem with the killing of animals for meat, but it just feels bad when you've done it for no particular reason and with no benefit to anyone. Sigh.
Well, I'll try not to drive after dark again. The last 160km into Exmouth went by without a problem, thankfully, and I learned to keep my speed down to 70 kph, not 80.