Drop bears target tourists!

Drop bears are less likely to attack people with Australian accents, according to experts at the University of Tasmania.

Drop bears inhabit closed canopy forest in the south-east of Australia. (Credit: Volker Janssen)
Drop bears inhabit closed canopy forest in the south-east of Australia. (Credit: Volker Janssen)

DROP BEARS TARGET PEOPLE with foreign accents more often than those who are Australian-born, according to new research.

The study, conducted in a drop-bear hot-spot in New South Wales, aimed to gather data around the behaviour and ecology of the elusive species.

There has been relatively little scientific research into the drop bear (Thylarctos plummetus), which the Australian Museum describes as a “large, arboreal, predatory marsupial related to the koala.” Populations are thought mainly to exist in forested coastal regions of eastern and southern Australia, stretching from the Cape York Peninsula to Tasmania.

Tracking drop bear behaviour

Dr Volker Janssen, a research associate at the University of Tasmania, led a research team into Morton National Park, 120km south-west of Sydney, in search of drop bears.

Given that ordinary GPS tracking is difficult to apply to tree-dwelling animals, Volker came up with a new approach to study the animal’s behaviour. “It involves tracking the prey, rather than the predator. The location and timing of attacks is then used to map the animal population,” he says.

Members of the research team were tracked using GPS devices, and dispersed in the study area. The findings, published in the journal Australian Geographer, have revealed that six drop bears inhabit the study area.

“Drop bears are known to be very territorial,” says Volker. “They do not stray far from a relatively small number of trees in close proximity that are used as hunting ground.”

Australians less likely to suffer attacks from drop bears

In a second study sample, a number of Australian-born research assistants were monitored and their data compared to that of assistants of international descent. Statistically, the results suggest that people born in Australia are significantly less likely to be attacked by drop bears.


Credit: Volker Janssen

“The analysis has provided valuable insights into the animal’s hunting behaviour,” Volker told Australian Geographic. “It has been confirmed that foreigners are much more likely to be dropped on than Australians.”

Volker attributes this selective behaviour to a number of factors, the most significant of which relates to Australian people’s taste for Vegemite.

“By-products of the interaction between chemicals found in Vegemite and those found in human sweat repel drop bears,” Volker says. “Most Australians eat Vegemite at least once a day, so they permanently exude these chemicals through their skin and are thus protected.”

Drop bears are also thought to be able to discern Australian accents, and seem to be less likely to attack people who have them.

How to avoid drop bears

“While drop bears are now not as common as they used to be, there have been many sightings of them over the years, mainly by bushwalkers hiking off the beaten track,” Volker says.

According to previous studies, drop bears hunt by ambushing ground-dwelling animals from above. Once prey is within striking range, he says, the drop bear will plummet several metres out of the tree, skilfully latching onto the neck of its victim.

“Drop bears do not specifically target human beings, but there have been several cases where bushwalkers have fallen victim to drop bear attacks, resulting in serious lacerations and even death.”

Volker suggests several methods bushwalkers can adopt to defend against potential drop bear attacks. These include wearing forks in the hair, spreading Vegemite behind the ears or under the armpits, and even urinating on oneself, to deter the species.

Further study may raise awareness for the species, which is believed to be in decline.

“The drop bear is a peculiar and uniquely Australian animal,” says Volker. “A better understanding of behaviour and ecology will allow us to ensure that a sustainable population is maintained by enhancing conservation efforts.”

Find more information about the habits and ecology of drop bears, as well as a distribution map here on the site of the Australian Museum.

Volker says he hopes his journal article is a useful discussion of GPS/GNSS techniques in ecology, and also an example for students of how to put together a research paper.

Source: Australian Geographic

Hello Mexico! 27-03-13

mexico2 So Irish eyes have smiled their last green smile for another year so we will swap the orange for red and welcome Mexico to the fray. The yearly tequila madness is here again when Mexico’s finest descend upon the Roo Bar to drink themselves into a frenzy, no doubt assisted by the Tijuana sound machine… :D

The Irish Charity Ball 2013

Irish Ball 2013Just when you thought it was all over.  Saturday the 23rd of March sees the return of the Irish Charity Ball at the Marriot Hotel.  The event will raise money for two charities, Barnados Ireland and CliniClowns Austria. It’s always a well turned out affair, ladies and gents alike scrubbing up tremendous in their best ball gowns and tuxedos, there’s always a few kilts for the lassies to be lifting at the dancing.

Roo Bar have donated a case of fine Australian Shiraz for the raffle, don’t worry if you don’t win any, we shall also be staying open late into the wee small hours for the aftermath, sorry, afterparty, so even if you didn’t manage to get a ticket, you can still grab a piece of the action till 6am Sunday morning. If you didn’t manage to get a ticket, here is what you are missing Irish Ball Programme 2013, get next years ticket booked early. :D

Sports Program 22-03 – 05-04

Friday 22 March 2013

21 00 : Football, World Cup Brazil Qualifiers
Scotland – Wales

Sunday 24 March 2013

18 00 : Football, League One
Tranmere – Stevenage

Monday 25 March 2013

18 30 : Football, Match Amical – Moins de 19 ans
Germany – Ukraine

20 45 : Football, Match Amical moins de 20 ans
France – Romania

Tuesday 26 March 2013

20 30 : Football, World Cup Brazil Qualifiers
Germany – Kazakhstan Continue reading

Geek Australia

puterology for the outback!

  1. Log On – Make the barbie bigger mate.
  2. Log Off – Mate, the barbie is too bloody big!
  3. Online – You’ve got the bugger.
  4. Off Line – The bugger got away.
  5. Netscape – You had the bugger, bugger got away.
  6. Monitor – Keep an eye on the barbie mate.
  7. Floppy Disc – Pull yer back carrying wood for the barbie.
  8. Continue reading

Shenanigans

paddys day St Patricks Day

Its that time of year again when everything goes green, including the beer.  No one really understands the phenomenon of St Patrick’s Day, but no one needs to, get yer green stuff on, get a silly hat, preferably HUGE, and get your funky green arse to the Roo for some shenanigans! There will be live music, Irish Stew, (although most of you will only be eating Guinness), and no doubt a shed load of little green bottles.  Don’t worry about the hangover, it will be St Patrick’s day proper the morning after, we’ll drink out way through it. Slainte!