As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Emus once roamed Tasmania, so what happened to them?

Posted Sat at 9:33pm

It's hard to imagine free-ranging emus foraging across Tasmanian plains in 2019.

But, there is a reason why Burnie used to be called Emu Bay. The large flightless birds once called the island state home.

The University of Tasmania's Tristan Derham said the birds were throughout Tasmania's midlands and the north-east and north-west of the state.

"It's not really clear why the emu went extinct in Tasmania," he said.

The emus were said to be a smaller sub-species of the mainland emus but there are few detailed descriptions of the bird.

Mr Derham said he had researched eyewitness accounts of emus through reports by divisive colonial leader George Augustus Robinson, explorer Matthew Flinders and the diaries of clergyman Robert Knopwood.

"I haven't found a lot of evidence they were much different from mainland emus," he told ABC Radio Hobart.

European settlers recorded feasting on emus and kangaroos upon arrival in Van Diemen's Land.

"The early colonists were crazy for hunting emus and kangaroos," Mr Derham said.

The species survived in the wild until 1865, and the last captive bird died in 1873.

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