Australia’s first fatal kangaroo attack in almost 90 years is thought to have happened this week.
It comes after a man was mortally injured by one of the marsupials in the state of Western Australia.
The last reported fatal kangaroo attack was in 1936, when William Cruickshank, 38, died of severe head injuries.
The most recent victim was a 77-year-old-man found with severe injuries at his home by a relative in Redmond, 250 miles southeast of Perth on Sunday.
Police think he may have been keeping the animal as a pet.
When emergency services arrived at the scene, the male kangaroo prevented paramedics from treating the man.
Police then shot the animal dead so they could reach the 77-year-old, who died at the scene.
Western grey kangaroos can weigh up to 54kg and stand 1.3m tall.
However, they can be fearsome if they attack, grabbing rival kangaroos – or anything else – with their wiry arms, before balancing on their tails and launching fearsome kicks with their hop-strengthened legs.
Keeping native Australian creatures, like kangaroos, is legally restricted – although police say they have no information about whether the man had a licence for the marsupial.
Tanya Irwin at the Native Animal Rescue service in Perth said: “This looks like it was an adult male and they become quite aggressive and they don’t do well in captivity.”
She added: “We don’t know what the situation was; if he was in pain or why he was being kept in captivity and unfortunately … they’re not a cute animal, they’re a wild animal.”
Bill Bateman, a behavioural ecologist at Curtin University, said: “My guess is if this kangaroo was being treated as a pet, that it had become very habituated to people, it didn’t see people as threatening, and often animals in that situation start becoming aggressive.
“Maybe it was reacting to people as if they were kangaroos, and it was defending itself, or being aggressive, or maybe it was getting ready to mate and then it was attacking people when they came onto the property.”