Friday, February 5, 2016

Emus 1, Australian Army 0

Esmeralda the Emu, Kentucky Down Under (Photo by Craig)
When I visited Kentucky Down Under in Cave, Kentucky, ‘way back in 2011, I had a jolly interface with a real, live emu. Y’know, it was one of the ugliest birds I’ve ever seen. Big too, about 6-feet tall when its head was held high.

I dubbed it Esmeralda because … well, just because.

Anyway, at the time, I had no idea what historical influence the emu had in its native Australia. Only recently did I find out about Australia’s Great Emu War of 1932.

See, during one of the annual migrations of emu from inlands to the coast, the birds discovered ample cleared lands and water in Western Australia’s farmlands. They ate the farmer’s crops, ruining the marginal farmland.

The farmers, many of whom were Australian and British veterans of World War I, were furious and demanded that the government do something about the problem. The Australian government capitulated and in October sent Maj. GPW Meredith and two soldiers to eliminate the problem.

Emu "Solder"
Unfortunately, heavy rainfall delayed the actual operation until November. But the tactics they used failed. Ambushing 1,000 emus, their guns jammed and the birds fled. They stalked the herd, killing 50 birds by Nov. 8 before withdrawing.

The emus persisted and four days later, military action resumed, eliminating a total of about 980 emus.

But gangs of emu are persistent if nothing else, and the farmers requested more military involvement in 1934, 1943 and 1938. But the Australian government had enough and turned a blind eye to the requests.

Winner: The emus.

I kid you not.

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