There are several healthy ‘mob’ populations of Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) within The Cape AO. They can be seen in the coastal sand dunes, the Bunurong Coastal Reserve and within the land boundaries of The Cape estate.
The kangaroos use the coastal bush to rest during the day and emerge late afternoon to feed in open, grassy habitat during the night and are often seen in the morning still grazing. They feed mainly on grasses and herbs but sometimes will eat leaves from trees and shrubs. In windy conditions, they will often tuck in behind vegetation shelter belts (such as Swamp Paperbark) and on sunny days, can be seen in grassy rest areas, particularly on north-east slopes. They are commonly seen around the wetlands and creekline complex and also inhabit the houses and streets of the estate.
There appears to be three main kangaroo ‘highways’ along which they emerge from the coastal bush to graze: a south-east mob who work the South East Sector and east of the creek line; the central mob who use the area around the central wetland complex and the creek line; and a south west mob who emerge from the coastal bush via the small farm dam in the South West Sector and graze the open spaces west of the creekline.
Given the size of The Cape kangaroo population and the opportunity to photograph them, the many photographs have been divided in to the following groups: males, females, females with joeys, behaviour, and “faces of the mob” (close up portraits).
There are significant numbers of male Kangaroos in the mobs and interestingly, there appear to be a greater number of males than females. Male kangaroos can reach an imposing size, and they are distinctive with broad chest and well-built shoulders. They tend to be more slower in movement and more wary than females, and usually are the first to withdraw if disturbed or approached. Many carry the scars of fighting and it is not uncommon to see them “boxing” to assert their dominance over other males.
Female kangaroos are much smaller in size than males and do not have the broad shoulder structure and sizeable chest cavity. They are noticeable by their drooping pouches if carrying a joey and also tend to be less wary when approached. They appear much more nimble in hopping speed than males.
Females and Joeys
Females can be carrying more than one joey in the pouch and joeys can spend several months in ‘protective custody’ while suckling milk and growing in size. You may see females leave their joeys behind fences, particularly in the central wetland, which acts as a ‘nursery’ as mum has a rest and feeds nearby while junior runs about building up strength. Do not worry, mum will retrieve the joey when it is ready!
If you take some time to watch, you will see many different kinds of kangaroo behaviour, including mating rituals, play and full-out aggressive fighting between males attempting to stamp their mark on the mob. Given the ratio imbalance between male and female, it is not uncommon to see many males courting a lone female along with some good sparring contests between males to establish dominance within the mob.
‘Faces of the Mob’ (Close up Portraits)
When the opportunity permits without putting myself in danger, I love getting close-up portraits of kangaroos – they are beautiful creatures with lovely eyes – and many have distinctive features or scars that allows us to more easily identify them. Here is a sample below.