The “Wallaby Walk-about” on Sydney Harbour Bridge made headline news today, but just yesterday morning I was fortunate enough to witness a “Wallaby Wrangle” in my very own backyard and I have the video footage to prove it, but a very grainy, still photo will have to do for now …
This summer has been hot and humid with the rain from many storms. But it is early and this morning is the coolest morning we have had for weeks; the local wallabies were out and about, full of energy, enjoying the cool change.
Seven wallabies, spread out across the lawn in my backyard is the head count; three of them are up for a sparring match; two of them watch with earnest interest while the sixth wallaby, a small female, stands at a distance looking over her shoulder wishing for the days when she was still young and energetic.
She is tired now, she has the seventh wallaby, a small joey tucked safely into her pouch and as this season has been generous with rain, she probably has another, smaller one coming along as well. With a wistful look on her face, she bends over and returns to grazing which allows her joey to reach the fresh green pick as well.
Three adolescent red-neck wallabies enter the boxing ring, they eye each other off and consider their options. An imaginary coin is tossed and two of the wallabies raise their fists in readiness.
“Ding Ding”, the bell announces to let the fight begin. They square up and move closer to the centre of the ring, there’s no backing out now.
Completely unaware of their audience, these energetic adolescents take very seriously, this bout which is only a lesson along life’s learning curve. No-one will be hurt, but the skills that will be learnt will be most valuable and will certainly be necessary if any of these adolescents are to pass on their genetic footprint to future generations.
They are young, they are fit, the weather is cool and they are enjoying the practice provided with this sparring match. When one of the competitors’ tires of the exercise, he simply hops away, leaving the remaining opponent to seek out the third contender and the match continues.
The match is quite competitive, full of flexible gymnastic style moves; many punches are thrown with the front paws; numerous high kicks are given by using both hind legs in simultaneous fashion, but no harm is done to any of the competitors, for this is just the “dress rehearsal of life”. There will plenty of time to lick the wounds and nurse the battered pride of a fight lost, later in their lives.
It is only the young males that spar in this fashion, knowing that later in their lives they will encounter the serious opponent; it will happen many times, each and every breeding season; they will battle to be the dominant male and to attract the attention of a healthy female; to ensure that it is their bloodlines that continue on for another generation.
To win the match that is the battle which decides the survival of the fittest, their skills must be sharp and they need to be lightning quick; they need to be strong in both defence and attack. It is only in these faux battles that these skills will be honed and that they will stand a small chance to experience the sense of honour that follows a win.
It will take many sparring matches in practice before he will be ready to step into the ring for real. And even then, it may be many a lost fight before he finally wins the crown and takes home the spoils; reaps the rewards and sows his seeds.
Then cycle begins again, when the next generation of adolescents step into the ring, to learn and to practice the same skills their father had to learn before them. I do hope I get to see them sparring too.
It is a joy and an honour for me to be able to witness this from the comfort and safety of my own verandah. What battles do you spy in your backyard? 😉