In my previous blog post, I wrote about Mao’s successful project in killing sparrows and what effect this had on farming in China.
I don’t know if there is some logic here, just coincidents or just me just writing two posts on project, birds and farming whih we can use to think about software development projects, but I now try to draw your attention till Australia in the 1930′s.
Having a large group of returning soldiers, the Australian government handed out farm land to help these families settle themselves after the war but as in the case of China under Mao, it is not as easy as land + man = successful farming. The land was not suitable for farming and then there were the Emu. This was not a European currency or a group of hostile people but rather a very big bird with an equally large apetite for crops.
As in the case of the Chinese sparrows, the Emu was blamed for the failing farms and the Australian government waged a war against the Emu. I’m not pulling your leg on this. The Australian government gave the army the task of killing 20′ Emu in 1932. How hard could it be? I mean, the Australians were part of the army which defeated the Germans! So the soldiers were given two machine guns and the order to shoot the birds and send feathers to the Sydney cavellery to be used as helmet decorations. A film crew was invited to document the success. Because, I mean: how hard can it be?
Harder than anyone could have guessed, I would guess. The birds had a tactic of their own. The birds, travelling in small groups have scouts of their own and on the sound of the alarm from a scout, all birds would just run off in speeds of 70 kph. Also, killing an Emu is not as simple as one would expect. Many emu’s were shot but survived and healed. These are up to 2 meter, 45 kg animals. One was said to have been shot multiple time and was only killed when run over by a truck.
The papers were having a field day with headlines about the “emu war” and at the end of the day, the parliment called the war off and one of the members of the parliment even stated that since medals are often presented in wars, the emu’s should recieve these.
It is easy to laugh about the Australian war on Emu’s but I cannot but help thinking about all these software development projects which starts like the war on emu’s. I mean: how hard can it be? The answer is but to often harder than you can imagine.