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Rabbit wars

Extract from Menace of the Rabbit (1949)

Newsreel item from 1949 about the land degradation caused by rabbits, which are in plague proportions in rural areas of the Central West and Northern New South Wales. Various means of exterminating rabbits are shown, as well as the manufacturing of rabbit netting for fences, which helps control the spread of rabbits. The narrator uses the analogy of war, with the Australian people fighting against ‘public enemy number one’, the rabbit.

European wild rabbits were introduced into Australia in 1859 so they could be hunted for sport. Within 50 years rabbits had spread across almost the whole of Australia. Rabbits have had a devastating effect on Australia’s environment, and people have tried different ways to reduce their numbers. Today at least 150 million wild rabbits live in Australia.

NFSA: 72463 Newsreel courtesy Cinesound Movietone Productions, NFSA


1. What does this short film clip show? Summarise what you see and hear.

2. Does the film appear to have a main purpose or message? If so, what do you think it is?

3. Who made the film clip and when was it made? Use this information to try to work out why the film was made. Does this change what you think about the purpose of the film?

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