A male kangaroo at a bush property in the coastal town of River Heads in Queensland, Australia, was spotted holding his dying mate in what has been called a strange sight. The female kangaroo breathed her last in the arms of her companion, said media reports.
The buck reportedly cradled the head of his companion as she tried to see and touch her joey one last time. The baby kangaroo even tried to jump back into the dead mother's pouch after her body had fallen to the ground, according to Daily Mail Australia.
Photographer Evan Switzer captured the touching incident of the marsupial family, identified as eastern grey kangaroos, on the lens during one of his regular walks on the property. He said he had never seen such behaviour among kangaroos.
"I've travelled around a bit and you see a lot of dead roos on the side of the road – but I've never seen anything like that before," Switzer was quoted as saying. He said that the buck appeared very protective throughout while the little one looked on standing close to the mother kangaroo.
"The male would chase the other kangaroos that came around away — he was sort of protective over the female," he said. "The young one looked kind of confused; it would stand by the mother and then hop off and chew some grass, and then come right back again."
Describing the scene in his photograph, Switzer asserted that the male kangaroo was grieving the death of his partner. "I saw the male pick up the female, he looked like he was just trying to get her up and see what was wrong with her," he said.
"He would lift her up and she wouldn't stand", Switzer added: "She'd just fall to the ground, he'd nudge her, stand besides her … it was a pretty special thing; he was just mourning the loss of his mate."
However, at least one expert has claimed that the buck was not mourning by cradling her head as humans do. Instead, he was trying to get her to stand up so he could mate with her, the scientist said.
"Great photos of the kangaroos, but I think they are fundamentally misinterpreted," research scientist Dr Mark Eldridge at Australian Museum wrote in a blog.
"The male is clearly highly stressed and agitated; his forearms are very wet from him licking himself to cool down. He is also sexually aroused: the evidence is here sticking out from behind the scrotum (yes, in marsupials the penis is located behind the scrotum)," he wrote.