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.
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.