farming is not a simple and isolated concept. It is part of
a bigger, more complex issue, the factors of which must be carefully
considered when thinking about the topic, hence their inclusion
in this paper.
thoughts, observations, interest and reading come about as a
result of having raised, lived beside and worked closely with
kangaroos constantly for over 10 years. It is a pity that more
people haven’t had the chance, so that they too would have a
deeper understanding. I have also lived on the land for most
of my life.
the 210 years since European inhabitance,….. Australia has lost
20 species or 8% of our mammalian species…. plus subspecies…….The
greatest decline has occurred in the arid zones where approximately
33% of mammal species are locally extinct….." (Gunn, Trounson,
Giles, 1998). Out of our "49 macropod species,….6 have
become extinct, 7 are endangered and 10 classed as vulnerable
due to their small population in restricted areas….and numbers
of the remaining species are killed annually." (Gunn, 1999)
to Environment Australia, "Australia accounts for about
one third of the world’s mammal species that have become extinct
in modern times." They then list all the different species
that are known to be extinct, or threatened, in their 1996 Action
Plan. And these are the ones that are known about, since these
facts have started to be recorded. A shameful number of other
species of fauna are now extinct, endangered or threatened throughout
Australia. Isn’t there enough information for us, so that
we can see the need to protect those species that are
left? Native flora is in the same predicament. Our natural
resources are in a mess, in fact humans have created undeniable
and disgraceful damage to our environment and original ecosystems.
And we continue to do so with very little thought and consideration
to our fellow species.
kangaroos are in danger of becoming extinct in the long run.
The typical attitude is that because we see kangaroos in large
mobs in some places, there is no fear of their extinction. This
is not correct and we really need to stop and examine what we
are doing. We have cleared their native habitat, their preferred
foods, the foods they need for their true health and vigour.
It is not correct to say that we have improved their situation
and diet with the pastures. We have replaced their nutrition
with chemically laden introduced species of vegetation – crops,
grasses and weeds.
are also incorrect to presume that we have improved their drinking
circumstances. They have survived for centuries with the watering
points they had – fresh, clean water, unlike the low quality
and polluted type we are offering. They were and would be, (if
still allowed), adapted to drinking from their major water sources
and would have had succulent plants in between to provide them
with the goodness and moisture they needed.
is also a deep paradigm to say that numbers of kangaroos have
increased due to improved conditions. The reason for the increase,
is that since the white settlers have been hunting and killing
kangaroos, they have foreseen their own demise, particularly
in more recent history. They see the need to breed intensely
for the survival of their species. We are taking the biggest
and the best, they need to keep producing in the hope that some
of their family may be able to survive to pass on the strength
and vitality through the genes.
of our furious predation and clearing of their required foods,
we are weakening their overall health. We are causing their
immunity to become lower, so now they are succumbing to all
manner of diseases.
the Kangaroo Industry flourishes, the situation will become
increasingly precarious for our kangaroos. The Industry is there
for human interests only. It must not be encouraged or allowed
to continue if we value our kangaroos and their future. It is
not only barbaric and incredibly cruel, it has completely unbalanced
nature’s laws and the bigger picture. Each year the quotas for
legal shooting increase, in 1999 the quota was 5.6 million.
That is for legal shooting. That does not include the death
of the joeys, illegal practices, road kills and accidents.
fact this heavy culling is not necessary. People blame
kangaroos for land degradation!! And yet still landholders
clear native vegetation, heavily graze their country and farm
intensely without consideration for the soils and the diverse
environment that should be existing. There are a few loud and
dangerous voices in high places who are siding with those who
feel that they have a problem with kangaroos. Unfortunately,
other people are blindly accepting without really thinking long
term. Our environment is in its current tragic state because
that’s what we have been doing all along – following a few,
without being aware and learning from our environment.
are not a threat to the environment or landholders. Several
studies, including one over a period of 6 years by Steve
McLeod, through the University of NSW, have proved that kangaroos
have different dietary requirements than sheep, that competition
is negligible with sheep being the dominant competitor. At Fowler’s
Gap, near Broken Hill, there has been no culling for 30 odd
years. They haven’t experienced any major problems with competition
between the sheep and kangaroos. In fact the manager, Paul Adams,
said that in a drought the kangaroos die before the sheep. He
also said that kangaroo numbers have not increased. Graham Arnold,
Research Scientist, CSIRO, W.A., reports that 13 mammal species
are extinct now in that state due to agricultural development
and loss of native vegetation. He also conducted a study of
Western Grey kangaroos and found that very few of them wandered
more than 400 metres from their home range in the bush and 95%
of wheat crops are never visited.
study shows that the kangaroos prefer to eat the native vegetation.
need to think of other ways to solve our problems. Shooting
is an easy option and while it is allowed, people will not think
beyond it, to other alternative, harmless ways of co-existing
with kangaroos on the land. We must stop thinking of kangaroos
as a "renewable resource". We must be concerned with
protection instead of exploitation. We must think beyond
our financial budget to 50 years or 500 years ahead.
must certainly NOT be promoting kangaroo farming, which really
is just an extension of the Kangaroo Industry.
farm kangaroos anyway?? There is NO FUTURE in it so why take
more kangaroos to hell and back in the meantime. Already in
some countries kangaroo meat and products have been banned.
The major supermarket chains in UK have stopped stocking kangaroo
meat due to public protest. So what happens when finally there
is a total move against kangaroo products, therefore no markets
or if a farmer becomes tired of his kangaroo farming venture,
sees the error of his way or is not making a profit? What then
for the kangaroos? They end up in a big hole like the emus at
"Gillenbah" (near Narrandera) or the gates are opened
and they are let loose onto the neighbours’ property like deer
have been. People will turn against the current cruel treatment
of kangaroos and understand the evolutionary ramifications just
as they have done with whale hunting and other unnecessary barbaric
practices for human-only gain. Fortunately there are people,
worldwide, who are working for the protection of our fellow
meat is obviously not a healthy product. Consider how and where
kangaroos are killed, transported and processed. Those factors
hardly match the pristine health standards of usual meat killing
and handling hygiene. Usually animals are inspected for diseases
before and after death, not kangaroos. Even if kangaroos were
inspected, the procedures may not detect some of the diseases.
Dr David Obendorf, BVSc (Hons), B(An) Sc, PhD, is a Wildlife
Pathologist with over 20 years experience of working in the
area of parasites and diseases of Australian native fauna. He
is also an Australian Member of the Scientific Advisory Board
to the International Animal Health Body. He warns the public
that kangaroos and wallabies can harbour a wide range of parasitic,
bacterial, fungal and viral diseases and the majority of infections
are unapparent (i.e. animals appear normal.) "Even meat
inspection procedures are unlikely to detect some infections
unless gross lesions are detected or routine samples are taken
for microbiological and pathological testing". He also
warns that in Australia, toxoplasmosis and the bacterial disease
salmonellosis are two infections with public health significance
directly related to the handling, processing and consumption
of kangaroo meat. There have been cases of toxoplasmosis reported
as a result of eating kangaroo meat. Also a confirmed case of
a ‘new’ disease, Pseudotrichinosis, in a Tasmanian man "who
was known as a big eater of native meat including wallaby"
(Sydney Morning Herald, October 2, 1997.)
been aggressively marketing (kangaroo meat) for a number of
years", said John Kelly, executive officer for the Kangaroo
Industry (Canberra Times, June1999) It’s not in their interest,
nor in the others’ who propound the exploitation of our kangaroos,
to tell the public of the possible dangers of eating kangaroo
meat. Doctors, vets and scientists have issued warnings that
so little is known about the potential for native animals to
infect humans and about the dangers of infection by parasites
and bacteria in kangaroo meat as a result of the culling, handling
and cooking. Chefs prefer to serve the meat in an undercooked,
rare form because it is tough. It will probably take more food
poisoning and serious illnesses before they do some dedicated
research into further information.
logistics of farming kangaroos would be very difficult! Fencing
for this would be incredibly expensive in fact not at all viable.
Fencing kangaroos would also be dangerous and cruel. Kangaroos
live by their fright/flight reaction. They flee from the slightest
disturbance. If there was a high fence in the way of a mob who
were frightened there would be horrific accidents. Kangaroos
need space, they belong in an expansive area, not segmented
into designated confines. They have great surges of energy and
they need to go for long pounding hops to release that. They
also have their own community rules and regulations which humans
should respect and not confiscate.
for kangaroos in captivity, or semi-captivity, is the major
cause of death. Kangaroos who were being farmed would have an
extremely high level of stress. This would manifest into all
manner of diseases and resulting death. Over a prolonged period,
this stress would cause low vigour, therefore poor health and
low resistance to disease and so more health problems. They
also need to be able to choose a variety of foods, including
a selection of native vegetation, bark, soils and other things
at different times. No farmer could meet those needs. The way
kangaroos would be managed would cause an incredible amount
of stress for them. Kangaroos have the same emotions as humans.
They also have very strong attachments to each other, especially
a mother with her joey. It would be totally cruel to separate
them for whatever needs the farmer deemed. The kangaroo community
feels the loss of a member and this would be a continual trauma
in a farming situation. (All these things are already an issue
with the institution of the Kangaroo Industry.)
are by nature not a docile animal, they are bouncey and robust.
Bucks are very powerful and strong, no human is a true equal
in their ability to defend. If a human was between a buck and
his female or being a threat in another situation, the buck
could be extremely dangerous for the human.
kangaroos are to be farmed without the use of additional fencing,
what’s the difference to the current situation? How would farmers
show ownership as they hop from property to property? How could
there be any control over the protection of the species? The
notion of farming only invites more disrespect, cruelty and
illegalities towards kangaroos.
may be a problem for people on the land, however we must rethink
our actions and the ways in which we deal with our problems.
Kangaroo farming is not a solution and should definitely not
even be considered. Landholders need to just stay with the farming
of sheep and cattle and do so without further degradation of
must evaluate our paradigms and truly care in an entire and
wholistic manner for our environment, and our native Australian
species therein, before it is too late. Protect not exploit.
G. ‘Can kangaroos survive in the wheatbelt?’ from WA Journal
of Agriculture Vol 31 1990
Australia Biodiversity Group. ‘The 1996 Action Plan for Australian
Marsupials and Monotremes’ website www.anca.gov.au/plants/threaten/marsupap/marsup3.htm
I M, Trounson A, Giles J. ‘Conservation of Genetic Resources
in Australia’. Presentation paper at Euro- American Mammal
Conference, Spain July 1998
I M. ‘Preservation of our macropods: Now and in the future’
. Paper for publication, "The Kangaroo Betrayed",
D. ‘Diseases in Kangaroo Meat’. Paper for publication, "The
Kangaroo Betrayed". 1999
M. "The Kangaroo Betrayed, World’s Largest Wildlife Slaughter".
Hill of Content 1999