In a bizarre accident, an Australian motorist died after his car burst into flames when he hit a kangaroo and crashed into a tree.
The 24-year-old man was driving on Callala Beach Road in the state of New South Wales when — according to Inspector Joe Thone, quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald:
"He collided with a kangaroo. As a result he’s lost control of his motor vehicle and collided with a tree.
"The vehicle has then caught alight and both the vehicle and the driver have been incinerated."
Despite the hype, freak wildlife related deaths in Australia are just that — freak.
(Down Under reports: Shark attack hype belongs in Hollywood, Australian scientists say)
To give a better idea, the website Sydney100.com published this handy graph, from a study titled "Human Deaths in Australia Between 1980-1990, Inclusive":
|Cause of Death||Total Deaths||Average per year|
|Crocodile Attacks ||8||0.7|
|Lightning Strikes ||19||1.7|
|Scuba Diving Accidents||88||8|
|Motor Vehicle Accidents ||32,772||2,979|
Sure, the site notes, Australia "has more poisonous and bitey nasties than any other nation in both the sea and on land — crocodiles, jellyfish, snakes, sharks and spiders, to name but a few."
But "precautionary measures implemented in the last 70 years mean it’s more likely you’ll be killed by lightening or fatal bee sting than by a croc or shark attack, spider or snake bite."
That said, kangaroos have been identified as "the deadliest animal menace to drivers on the nation's roads," Agence France-Presse reports.
Citing a study by the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, AFP reported that the marsupials — which can grow to over 6 feet and weigh as much as 200 pounds — account for 60 percent of fatalities and 40 percent of injuries in accidents involving animals in NSW.
There were 13 human deaths in almost 2,100 crashes involving kangaroos between 1996 and 2005, with a person treated for injury from such a crash once every three days
"Kangaroos and their smaller kin, wallabies," the report says, "are famed for their tendency to leap into the path of highway traffic, endangering not only their own lives but those behind the wheel."
Judging by this Google Map view of Callala Beach Road, where the latest fatality occurred, motorists are passing through some prime kangaroo-accident territory:
View Larger Map
Then there's this to consider: "Rogue kangaroo" attacks 94-year-old woman in Australia
According to Sydney100, almost 400 tourists die each year in Australia. Which seems like a lot until, the site says, you consider that "more than 400,000 visitors hit Australian shores every month," making the death rate "a miniscule 0.01 percent."
In fact, according to more recent figures, Australia receives close to 500,000 visitors a month, so your chances of surviving a wildlife encounter would lately appear even rosier.