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Learning English - Words in the News
28 December, 2005 - Published 12:00 GMT
Kangaroos 'scared by own noise'

Australian farmers could be about to get an unusual new weapon to protect their crops from kangaroos. Researchers in Melbourne have found that they can be scared off by the thumping sound of their own large feet on the ground. This report from Phil Mercer:

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Kangaroos have long been an annoyance to many Australian farmers. Keeping these fleet-footed marsupials away from their crops and water supplies has become a constant battle. A traditional deterrent has been a series of high pitched squeals emitted from loudspeakers. Researchers have found that kangaroos often become accustomed to these artificial sounds and took little notice of them.

However, a recording of a 'roo thumping its foot appears to have been quite a breakthrough. This is the noise these macropods make when they sense danger before taking flight. Using the animal's own alarm system could be what irate farmers have been looking for. They often complain that kangaroo numbers have reached plague-like proportions. Several million are shot dead every year as part of an official cull.

Animal rights campaigners have insisted that many of these pouched mammals die a painful death at the hands of unlicensed or inexperienced marksmen. A large number of marsupials are killed or injured on Australian roads by cars and trucks. Researchers, who are hoping to develop their foot thumping technology, believe it could also be used to guide kangaroos away from busy highways.

Phil Mercer, BBC, Sydney

Listen to the words

fast moving

a word for animals which carry their young in a 'pocket' of skin

something which discourages the animals from doing something

become accustomed to
get used to something and therefore not be worried by it

the scientific name for the group of animals which include marsupials

taking flight
running away from danger

very angry

plague-like proportions
so many that there is a danger

the killing of animals to reduce their numbers for environmental reasons

people whose job is to shoot animals

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