In the darkness of the night, Australia’s most iconic species is being hunted in the largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet.
It sits atop the Australian flag, and is recognized globally as a quintessentially Australian species; kangaroos are entrenched deeply into the rich fabric of Australian culture. Yet, each night, shrouded in the darkness of the remote Australian outback, these iconic species’ are being maimed and killed. While families of kangaroos graze peacefully in the night, a blinding spotlight from a vehicle will pierce through the darkness, before a flurry of gunshots echoes throughout the bush.
This is a Guest Post by Natalie Kyriacou, Director of the wonderful blog called My Green World
The Overpopulation Myth
The commercial hunting of Australia’s treasured national icon is an embarrassingly cruel chapter in this nation’s recent history. Every year the commercial kangaroo industry kills roughly 1 to 6 million kangaroos for their meat and skins which is distributed globally, and to protect grazing land for sheep and cattle.
This industry continues to profit enormously from the misperception that kangaroos are a hugely overpopulated pest animal, leading the kangaroo to be culled at an alarming rate.
In reality, there is very little evidence to support this “overpopulation” argument.
Kangaroos are a slow-growing, slow-reproducing animal, and their population growth is limited by the fact that females reproduce roughly once per year, and they have a high infant mortality rate, particularly during drought season. Population growth of kangaroos is 3-10% in good years, with up to 60% declines during drought.
Killing in the Night
The kangaroo industry is grossly underregulated, largely unmonitored. A 2009 report, ‘A Shot in the Dark, A Report on Kangaroo Harvesting’ concludes that the realities of the kangaroo industry reveal “extensive and alarmingly unhygienic practices, unacceptable suffering of young kangaroos and the manufacture of false hope that kangaroo harvesting will alleviate environmental degradation in rural areas.”
Emotional Lives of the Kangaroo
Kangaroos are extremely social and have been observed to suffer considerable trauma when one of their mob is injured or killed. The large males and females play a crucial role in the cohesion of the mob, as well as the protection of younger kangaroos. When these dominant kangaroos are killed, the mob loses its leaders, causing irreversible long-term damage to the future survival and welfare of the mob.
Ends Justify the Means?
Contrary to popular belief, Australia is not swarming with kangaroos, and should be very careful about blanket statements of plague kangaroo populations, because it certainly does not represent the overall picture. The legitimacy of the justifications presented by kangaroo industry advocates is questionable, at best, with perceptions of kangaroos as a pest species being highly inflated.
Irrespective of widespread propaganda, the fundamental basis for which Australia carries out its night-time slaughter of its most beloved kangaroos is cruel, unnecessary and shrouded in secrecy.
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