In the largest land-based commercial slaughter of wild animals in the world, every year around 5 million kangaroos are slaughtered for petfood and trainers.
Australians are not keen on ‘skippy meat’ – described by Dr. Paul Hopwood from the University of Sydney as ‘worm nests’ (Dirofilaria roemeri) – so the international meat mafia are trying to introduce the product in Europe. The Australian kangaroo industry estimates that it exports kangaroo meat to more than 55 countries. Some kangaroo skins are traded as furs, while others are sold for the leather. Their skins are sold to international shoe companies such as Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and Puma.
Each night in remote areas of the Australian outback thousands of kangaroos graze peacefully, stand up on hearing an approaching vehicle, stare into a blinding spotlight, and are shot for their meat and skins. As kangaroos are shot in the wild and at night, when they are most active, the cruelty associated with the slaughter of kangaroos is largely hidden from the public eye. While shooters are required by Commercial and Non-Commercial Codes of Practice to aim to shoot a kangaroo in the brain and so achieve an instantaneous death, many factors affect the ability of a shooter to achieve this.
Kangaroos taken for commercial use are harvested by professional trained shooters who are supposed to follow strict guidelines. Shooters often have a thorough contempt for the law. They commit cruelty on a regular basis.” – Dr. John Auty (veterinary scientist and former Chief agronomist). Young kangaroos who are still reliant on their mothers known as Joeys – are not even mentioned in the “National Code of Practice for Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies”.
A comprehensive survey has proved that animals who have been killed, were not by a single shot to the head as is required by the kangaroo industry Code of Practice (see RSPCA Report 2002).
We are assured that kangaroos are humanely killed according to ‘the code.’ However all the killing is performed from moving vehicles in the bush at night, unsupervised, by shooters whose proficiency is questionable. The slaughters are neither controlled nor monitored.
Many kangaroos are shot in the face or neck and left to die painfully of starvation and gangrene. The adult females that are killed often have an in-pouch joey and an at-foot joey. The in-pouch joey is either decapitated, stomped on or bashed to death against a tree or truck. The at-foot joey flees to die of starvation, hypothermia or predation. There is nothing humane about the kangaroo killing industry.
Non-fatal body shots are an unavoidable part of the industry, causing horrific and painful injuries. Chiller data suggests that anywhere from 120,000 to over one million kangaroos are mis-shot annually, but lack of industry monitoring makes it difficult to establish more accurate figures. The true figure could be much higher than that.
A vivid picture of the types of injuries that occur is painted by the words of a former commercial kangaroo shooter: “The mouth of a kangaroo can be blown off and the kangaroo can escape to die of shock and starvation. Forearms can be blown off, as can ears, eyes and noses. Stomachs can be hit expelling the contents with the kangaroo still alive. Backbones can be pulverized to an unrecognisable state etc. Hind legs can be shattered with the kangaroo desperately trying to get away on the other or without the use of either. To deny that this goes on is just an exercise in attempting to fool the public.” [David Nicholls, ‘The Kangaroo – Falsely Maligned by Tradition’ in Maryland Wilson and David B Croft (eds), Kangaroos – Myths and Realities (2005)]
A new report ‘A Shot in the Dark — a report on kangaroo harvesting’, commissioned by Animal Liberation (NSW) was released in May 2009 outlines problems of hygiene in the kangaroo meat industry, sustainability of kangaroo populations and animal welfare. The report estimates some 440,000 dependent young kangaroos are either clubbed to death or left to starve after their mothers are killed. The full report, written by wildlife ecologist Dr Dror Ben-Ami, also includes material on contamination of kangaroo meat and sustainability issues.
“The shot to the head out of the darkness that the industry and its supporters promote as clean, green and humane; every night leaves behind abandoned young-at-foot quietly coughing in an attempt to unite with their mothers – but nobody hears.”
At the time of the early colonisation of Australia in 1788, the estimated population of western grey kangaroos, red kangaroos, eastern grey kangaroos, and wallaroos was 250 million. Now it is thought to be around 10% of that total, around 250 million and in many regions they have already been wiped out.. Commercial hunting zones cover most of South Australia and there are almost no areas there where kangaroos are fully protected. The present total macropus population is thought to be around 25 million.
Macropus giganteus (eastern gray kangaroo): 10 million
Macropus fuliginosus (western gray kangaroo): 3 million
Macropus rufus (red kangaroo): 7 million
There are thought to be 120 million sheep in Australia
Cattle produce 100 times more poop than people do, so their massive amounts of manure pollute ground and surface water and cause dead zones in the oceans. Since up to 80% of all grains in the world are used to fatten livestock instead of feeding hungry people, livestock farming contributes to world hunger. Likewise 20 million Australians eating cows and sheep is not sustainable or healthy for our country.
The mother and joey bond is immensely strong. Red kangaroos are not weaned until a year after birth and Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos are not weaned until they are nearly 18 months old. [http://www.animalsaustralia.org/]. The useless orphaned young, known as joeys, too small for commercial purposes, are either decapitated if small. or killed with a blow to the head. If even only a third of the kangaroos killed are females say 1.2 m and half of them have a joey, that works out to be at least 600,000 joeys killed each year. It is estimated that there are 300,000 dependent ‘at foot’ joeys who escape, facing a life alone, falling victim to predators, exposure or starvation.
In addition, million more kangaroos die each year due to drought, bushfire, predation, car accidents, illegal hunting, being killed by farmers, The total annual death toll amounts to 10 million – a patently unsustainable figure.
Kangaroos are killed to earn foreign currency, which is why the meat and leather is promoted around the world. Having built an industry with political clout, self interest will ensure it carries on killing, whatever its impact on kangaroos.
Kangaroos are integral to the Australian environment and have been in harmony with it for 50 million years. Kangaroos assist in the regeneration of native grasses, reduce the risk of wildfires and protect habitat from the invasion of non native herbivores. Kangaroos have strong family bonds and have been observed to suffer severe grief when one of their mob dies [Australian Society for Kangaroos]
Animal Liberation NSW representatives have traveled around Europe and Russia to provide factual reports and hold press conferences alerting import country authorities and consumers of kangaroo meat to the plight of these animals in Australia and to the innate cruelty in the industry.
Once again we have a cruel animal industry which continues only because it can operate without public scrutiny.
Kangaroos live in Australia and Tasmania, as well as on surrounding islands. They live for 6 to 8 years, and their diet consists mainly of grasses and can survive for long periods without water. Kangaroos inhabit all types of terrain, from tropical rain forests and wood areas, to desert plains and savannahs.
Red and grey kangaroos are 5 to 6 feet tall and can leap 30ft and travel at speeds of up to 30mph. Males will box each other in play or for dominance but kangaroos are more than capable of sticking up for themselves against, say, a dog attack as they have very powerful hind legs and sharp claws. Although being shy and retiring creatures, they normally represent little or no threat to humans.
There are over sixty sub-species of kangaroos (‘macropods’ meaning great-footed). Only the four most abundant species of kangaroo and small numbers of two common wallaby species can be commercially harvested and these are the red kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo, the western grey kangaroo, common wallaroo and Bennetts and Pademelon wallabies.
Myth – Kangaroos destroy wheat crops
A four-year study by CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization) found that kangaroos never visit 95 per cent of wheat crops. However, farmers and the Australian government still refer to kangaroos as pests. In fact, commercial killing takes place in the outback where crops are never grown.
The real destruction comes from 160 million hard-hoofed sheep and cattle. It is claimed that kangaroos destroy wheat crops and compete for grazing. A six-year study by Dr. Steven McLeod (University of New South Wales) – the biggest ever undertaken – examined whether red kangaroos affected sheep farming. It found no competition for food between sheep and kangaroos – even in drought conditions.
Kangaroos cannot be farmed
Kangaroos cannot be farmed as they cannot be herded or driven into yards or abattoirs because they get too stressed (capture myopathy) and the lactic acid builds up in their muscles causing the meat to go rancid and become inedible. Nor can they be transported live unless the appropriate techniques and medications are used.
So all kangaroos taken for commercial use are harvested from the wild at night by professional shooters.
Being slaughtered in the field presents health and financial problems. The farmer would need transportable chillers to send to the processors, plus the animals would need to be inspected in the field prior to slaughter to ensure the meat was healthy.
Kangaroos eat native vegetation (not wheat) and it would take many years to grow back native plants. They also need a lot of space to roam and cannot be confined in overcrowded areas. Kangaroo-proof fencing is very expensive (DPI recommends 12 wires alternately electrified, 2.13 metres high).
Then there is the question of ownership. Under the Constitution all wildlife is ‘owned’ by the Crown and therefore cannot be privately ‘owned,’ although farmers can own land and wildlife habitat. And even if they could be owned, tagging kangaroos would require expensive and risky tranquilisation. Branding them would kill many or cause myopathy, again making the meat inedible.
Kangaroos are small animals. An adult yields 6.9 kg of meat, only 0.25 kg of which would be human grade. Current annual kangaroo meat production is 600 tonnes (from 2.5 million kangaroos) compared to 1,7000,000 tonnes of beef. In order to produce enough meat to replace beef the entire kangaroo population would have to be killed 566 times every year.
Kangaroos breed from 2-3 years of age and only produce one joey a year. Survival rate for joeys is low, especially during a drought. Sheep breed from 1 year of age and can produce twins. Joeys are dependent on their mothers for 14 months (sheep for only a few months) and so cannot be transported or sold as live young. Sheep produce meat, skin and wool – kangaroos produce only meat and skin. A 10 year old adult male red kangaroo weighing 60 kg can only produce 6 kg of prime cut meat. Lambs can be slaughtered at 3-6 months of age to produce 20 kg meat (Preuss, 1999) and a 2 year old cow can produce 200 kg of meat.
Clearly kangaroo farming is not economically viable
Unlike the livestock industry, Kangaroos do not degrade the environment by:
(a) producing virtually no methane greenhouse gases through exhaling and eructation. The hydrogen by product of fermentation is instead converted into acetate, which is then used to provide further energy. The greenhouse gas effect of methane is 23 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. However, the greenhouse gases from the livestock industry is 18% total emissions (which exceeds the entire transport sector at 14%).
(b) requiring massive quantities of water as with cows. Kangaroos have slender noses with a long narrow tongue that can lap water from sources that broad nosed livestock cannot even get to or would find unacceptable. (Reference: David Croft, p.238-9, Kangaroo Myths and Realities).
(c) causing soil erosion, loss of soil nutrients and soil ecosystems leading to soil desertification. Kangaroos are not hoofed animals (like livestock) that compact the soil and cause soil problems.d) destroying wildlife (the livestock industry shoots native animals which it regards as pests)e) destroying trees or habitat of other speciesf) contributing to the eutrophication and acidification of water and the ocean.g) excessive grazing. Kangaroos’ grazing pressure is only 1-8%.
The rest of the grazing pressure is mainly cows and sheep.(References for all the above environmental effects of the livestock industry:
Kangaroos have intrinsic value and are perfectly adapted to their environment. The more kangaroos, the more biodiversity in Australia. However governments are now claiming that kangaroos overgraze or threaten endangered species, even though there are no published articles in peer reviewed journals proving this scientifically.
Is Kangaroo meat healthy?
The Sydney Morning Herald on 18th November, 2009 reported that lack of hygiene and potential for disease is now threatening the kangaroo industry
And is it any wonder? Kangaroos are hung upside down with hooks through their hind legs for hours before being killed. This horrific suffering releases myopathy toxins. The bodies are driven around on a dusty unhygienic truck all night then placed in inadequately refrigerated ‘chillers’ for up to two weeks, leading to contamination with faeces, maggots, e.coli and more (see this video ).Kangaroo meat can contain salmonella, staphylococcus and streptococcus. However no research into unusual parasites and pathogens such as nematodes that eat stomach and muscle tissue or Trichinella pseudospiralis has received government funding. Until public health risk assessments for known zoonoses have been carried out, the precautionary approach would be to take kangaroo meat off the market, since it is rarely adequately cooked.In August 2009, Russia banned the importation of kangaroo meat from Australia on the grounds of health risks from ecoli etc. This has reduced the kangaroo industry’s profits by a whopping 70% and many roo shooters in Queensland are out of a job.
Toxoplasmosis outbreaks related to kangaroo meat consumption are well known and have resulted in deaths and multiple illnesses. In 2008 three kangaroo processing plants closed down and Russia has rejected imports due to e.coli contamination. Canada, among other countries, has banned the importation of kangaroo meat. Additionally, eating kangaroo meat can cause anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction) and also bowel cancer, as its iron content is twice that of beef (high dietary iron being a risk factor for bowel cancer).Pets can die from eating kangaroo meat (pet mince) preserved with sulphur dioxide which can cause vitamin B deficiency. Dr Richard Malik, from Sydney University’s Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science, said pets affected by sulphur dioxide become wobbly on their legs, may develop a head tilt then progress to seizures, paralysis and death. Read Today Tonight report here.Read letter from dog groomer whose clients STOPPED feeding their sick dogs kangaroo meat and noticed an immediate improvement in their health!
A recent two-year investigation – conducted by the Wildlife Protection Association of Australia (WPAA) and Animal Liberation NSW and based on information provided by a kangaroo industry ‘whistleblower’ – found evidence of unsustainable and damning practices in the kangaroo industry. Some 24 chillers (holding facilities for carcasses) around NSW and Southern QLD were inspected and samples from carcasses taken for testing. This investigation revealed that:
Carcasses swabbed by investigators were contaminated by dangerous bacteria, including E.coli, Streptococcus and Staphylococcus.
A large proportion (70-80%) of stored carcasses were non-preferred female kangaroos, indicating a likely current population imbalance, and indicating that there are only low numbers of (the larger preferred) males available to shoot. This is of great concern as these strong adult males are needed to maintain an ongoing healthy gene pool.
Many of the carcasses were barely above the (NSW) minimum permitted ‘human consumption’ weight of 13kg, and those females were unlikely to have even had a single joey – revealing once again an absence from the population of the larger adult kangaroos.