The Study of Emu Poo

The Tasmanian Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae deimenensis), now extinct, was endemic to Tasmania. It is reported to have been similar in shape to the Australia’s mainland emu but smaller and darker (Dove 1924; Green 1989; Le Souëf 1904). This subspecies lived in Tasmania’s wild until about 1865, and a captive bird lived until 1873 (Green 1989; Le Souëf 1904). The Tasmanian emus suffered the fate of extinction before the thylacine, the Tasmanian tiger. The bird was hunted relentlessly when Europeans were clearing and deposing Aborigines off their land.

There is little known about the Tasmanian Emu but researchers report that they played an important role in Tasmania’s ecology by distributing seeds across the state. Apparently emus eat just about anything, travel up to fifty kilometres a day and each poo deposit can have thousands of seeds in it.

emu poosml
Photo by Tristan Durham: an emu scant with seeds growing out of it on Wilson’s Promontory, Victoria

A study has commenced on the mainland of Australia, in south-east Victoria, examining which plants emus are eating, by examining their poo, with the intention of studying the current distribution of these plants in Tasmania. Emu poo contains the anticipated native seeds and bracken but surprisingly, whole Sheoak cones are also found in the poo which leads to the conclusion that emus aren’t fussy about what they pick up and swallow whole.

This study is aimed to provide insight into whether the emu should be re-introduced into Tasmania. Personally, I think it shouldn’t. It’s not a Tasmanian Emu and there is bound to be something unknown about the mainland emu that is detrimental for the Tasmanian environment.

In the meantime, my emus have not been wandering around in Tasmania’s wilderness instead they have been visiting the Op-Shops and have purchased some funky outfits.

Walking with Flairsml
Original painting titled: “Walking with Flair”
walking with flairIsml
Original painting titled: Walking with Flair II

Wishing you a “walking with flair” week!

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