Of the hundreds of highway death scenes I’ve stopped at over the years this latest would qualify as one of the worst and most distressing.
Ten days or so ago I was driving homewards up the single-lane strip of bitumen that passes for a highway in this part of the world and had pulled off onto the red dirt verge to allow a roadtrain to pass.
That truck was just one of the many 140-tonne, four-trailer behemoths that do the 1100 kilometre round trip up the Tanami Track from Alice Springs carting diesel fuel, cyanide and other essentials to The Granites mine.
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You always get off the road for those guys.
One hundred metres up the road I noticed a common indicator of a recent bird killing zone – for 100 metres or so the ground and short grass alongside the road was littered with downy feathers,with a scatter of larger feathers blowing around in the stiff breeze.
I stopped, got out of the car and looked about me.
In the middle of the road was a large, slowly congealing pool of blood, with large splatters indicating that whatever – most likely a large kangaroo – had died here and had been hit by an inbound vehicle.
There was no sign of any kangaroo carcass close handy – maybe some caring driver or a hungry Dingo had dragged it off the road and well into the scrub, thus saving a few more birds from an untimely death.
As I looked at this scene more closely the true horror of what had happened emerged. All about me lay the scattered, shattered remains – here the severed head shown above, there a leg – stripped of flesh, next to the road another head, ten feet away a razor-taloned foot, wing and tail – this time of a younger bird.
An open-air slaughter house – whatever had happened here had been brief and incredibly brutal – two Wedgetailed Eagles had been hit and torn – literally – limb from feathered limb, ground into paste on the road and left for the carrion-eaters.
The horror, the horror.
I can say no more – let my pictures bear witness and tell their own story.