Kangaroos: The Unnecessary War On Australia’s National Icon

Nothing shouts ‘Australia’ to the world more than the image of a kangaroo. This beautiful creature has lived in harmony with the Australian people and landscape for countless generations prior to the arrival of Europeans. Kangaroos have had 16 million years of evolution and 200 years of persecution.

There is now abundant evidence to suggest that the outlook for long-term survival of our cherished icon has never been bleaker.

Kangaroos can be killed for commercial purposes in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia.  In 2010 almost 1.5 million kangaroos were killed as part of the commercial ‘harvest’ of kangaroo flesh and skins in these four states. Kangaroo shooting is frequently justified by farmers and so-called ‘conservationists’ as a way of keeping kangaroo numbers ‘in check’.

The commercial kangaroo industry is so large that over the last 10 years, 30 million kangaroos were slaughtered, and 3 million joeys bashed or abandoned to a cruel death, which equates to around 300,000 joeys every year.

    There are a few common misconceptions that surround kangaroos, being that are widespread and abundant, causing damage to the land, and that eating a kangaroo is greener than factory farmed species.
      In reality, before white settlement kangaroos were abundant, but now they teeter around a mere fraction of the past. Like native populations of wild deer, antelope, sheep and goats in the rest of the world, free ranging kangaroos thrive when forage is abundant and die in times of drought. Those seeking to control kangaroos by simply killing them as pests ignore the diversity of the different kangaroo species and their various roles in Australia’s fragile eco-system. There is evidence that some species, such as the red kangaroo, may actually be on the brink of an irreversible population collapse.
        The truth is, land degradation is a result of overgrazing from cattle and sheep. These animals live in high densities, on the same pastures all year round, damaging the environment. Rather than accepting fault, the multi-billion dollar livestock industry has constructed the idea that kangaroos are to blame.
          The consumption of kangaroo meat is often given the justification that it is a “more sustainable” source of food. However, kangaroos are not an infinite resource, and creating the idea that they are a green consumer product, can cause a depletion in their population numbers beyond a point of no return. Furthermore, research by UTS THINKK disputes that kangaroo harvesting could never sustainably match current levels of consumption of other farmed animals. Supported by environmental research, which indicates a plant-based diet leaves the smallest “ecological footprint”.
            Killing Methods
              Despite the Code of Practice for killing kangaroos, it is impossible to ensure that kangaroos are shot humanely, as the killing occurs in remote locations, at night, without supervision. The Code of Practice is not monitored at the point of kill, but by spot checks of carcasses in refrigerated containers where they are sorted after a night’s shooting.
                Kangaroos often suffer immensely through a slow and painful death. Shooters are told to target the skull, which is proportionally small, especially when shooters aim from a distance. A combination of hunting at night, the small target, and  the speed and unpredictability of a kangaroo, one can be shot many times, before it actually falls to the ground, resulting in gruesome injuries. This includes, blowing off the kangaroos mouth and forearms, hitting their stomachs, eyes, ears, and noses. A further deliberate act of cruelty is where injured, live kangaroos are hung up on meat hooks.
                  In many cases kangaroos escape after being wounded and are left to  suffering and die from bullet wounds, starvation, or predation.
                      If there are joeys in pouch, industry requires them to have their heads chopped off with an axe, or be bludgeoned to death. This is usually done with the back of a rifle or a blunt object such as a piece of wood or metal. Recent footage depicted hunters throwing and whacking live joeys against the side of trucks and jumping on their heads. Even if the joey is fortunate to escape this cruel practice, they are almost sure to die of starvation or predation.
                        Kangaroo Meat Hygiene
                          Dangerous levels of salmonella and E.coli have been found in kangaroo meat destined for human consumption. Laboratory testing conducted by Biotech laboratories on 25 kangaroo meat samples taken from Australian supermarkets showed 75% contamination with Salmonella and/or E.coli. In 2009, Russia banned the importation of kangaroo meat after consistent bacterial E.Coli contamination and human safety fears.
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