The guns also kept jamming, and even when they did hit an emu, it often did surprisingly little damage. One emu was shot five times to no effect, and it only died when a truck ran it down.
One soldier remarked that the only way to kill an emu was to “shoot it through the back of the head when his mouth was closed” or “through the front of his mouth” when it was open. “That’s how hard it is,” he bitterly added.
During an ambush attempt, soldiers had surrounded about 1,000 emus, but after just 12 rounds or so were fired, the guns jammed once again, and the emus fled. Even chasing after them in the back of vehicles and firing at them on the move proved ineffective, as the guns were simply not precise enough.
Ultimately, with 9,860 bullets fired, just around 900-1,000 emus were killed, meaning the soldiers had a one-in-ten hit rate. The emus eventually left the region, but only because they ran out of crops to eat.
Major Meredith later noted: “If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world... They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks.”
Humanity had decisively lost the Great Emu War. Later on, during a discussion in parliament, an MP asked if anyone should get medals for their valor during the conflict. Yes, another replied – the emus.
Ultimately, the Australian government decided to build a very costly wall along the western territories to keep them out, and hire bounty hunters to cull their numbers. Both proved a lot more effective, and in 1934, after just six months, over 57,000 emus were killed.
Nowadays, the emu is an officially protected species, so who won in the end? That, dear reader, is up to you to decide.
Watch it. They'll get you. The Len/Shutterstock