Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beware the Drop Bear

Australia is well known for its beautiful, unique and sometimes deadly wildlife. Animals such as kangaroos and emus are "mostly harmless", but other creatures such as the Great White Shark, Tasmanian Devil and the infamous Drop Bear are posing an increasing threat to Australia's visitors.
Drop Bears are a larger, carnivorous, relative of the koala. Like their cousins their habitat is eucalypt trees and their primary form of attack is to drop from the higher branches on to their unsuspecting prey below. It is believed that the Drop Bear evolved from Phascolarctos stirtoni. Scientists have been unable to determine how the Drop Bear times its fall so accurately, so as to land on its victim with pin-point accuracy. The collision typically leaves the prey unconscious and the Drop Bear relatively unscathed. The Drop Bear will then use its sharp claws and fang like teeth to rip the carcass to shreds. Drop Bear cubs will frequently follow their mother after she has incapacitated her victim.
Drop Bears are found throughout Australia but are predominantly situated in eucalypt forests some distance away from the urban centres. They are most active from early Spring to late Autumn.
In 2009 the Commonwealth Government plans to start its "Beware the Drop Bear" campaign, designed to educate tourists on the dangers of Drop Bears in the Australian bush. Since 1990, there have been 27 recorded Drop Bear fatalities - mostly foreign visitors.

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