In recent correspondence with Mr Greg Hunt, Minister for the Environment, (27th Jan, 2015) he says that “The Australian government in involved in the management of kangaroos when kangaroo products are exported overseas under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act 1999)”.
The EPBC Act requires that the harvest of export kangaroos to be “ecologically sustainable”, based on the best available science and conducted in a manner that avoids detrimental impacts on the species and associated ecosystems.”
The concept of “ecologically sustainable” is fluid, UN-quantitative and largely speculative. Like the word “sustainable”, it’s come to have any meaning we like to give it, and almost an oxymoron!
A large proportion (70-80%) of stored carcasses have been found to be 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.
kangaroos that have survived drought are the biggest and the best kangaroos of what is left from the shooters bullets. If they, the kangaroos, have survived the drought then they should be allowed to live so that their gene pool essential to retaining the inherited genetic strengths of the mob can be passed on. Instead the commercial kangaroo industry kills them and so defies once again the natural selection process. This is wrong and it is clearly unsustainable.
Population estimates from kangaroo harvesting commercial zones are used to set yearly harvesting quotas to ensure a sustainable kangaroo population and industry. However, there hasn’t been a national population estimate of kangaroo numbers in Australia since 1987 (Caughley et al 1987).
There has been a documented decline in at least some populations of Eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) in coastal areas where urbanisation in South East Queensland is greatest; however there is currently no sound estimate of the extent of this decline across the region.
Industry figures and Queensland senator Barry O’Sullivan both claim kangaroo numbers are out of control, despite population estimates that may suggest otherwise.
While graziers and industry anecdotally report growing numbers of kangaroos, the most recent estimates from the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage, show roo populations have actually declined after a peak in 2013.
Any unbiased ecological research and will uncover undeniable proof of the severe decline in the populations of Australia’s national icon.
In a Senate speech on February 12, Senator Rhiannon said two popular myths – that there’s a “super abundance” of kangaroos and the iconic animals are pests. Senator Rhiannon said unquestioning acceptance of the “twin myths” had permitted nearly 90 million kangaroos and wallabies to be legally shot from 1975 to 2011 “for the commercial market alone”. The commercial kangaroo industry use their own work to produce industry-based materials and then present it as independent research to overseas governments and the public!
The four most common species of kangaroo, and two of the most common wallabies can be commercially harvested because they are not listed as “threatened” under the EPBC Act, or State or territory legislation. So, when species are listed as “threatened”, then there *may* be some efforts towards recovery, but there’s no guarantees! So, any effort of conservation of harvested species is in hindsight, not prevented!
Mr Hunt says that professional harvesters are licenced under the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes to ensure the animals are killed in a “humane manner”.
With no supervision, and “harvesting” in remote, hot, dark and dusty areas, just how “humane” it is to shoot at family mobs is highly questionable. The commercial kangaroo industry’s national code of practice states that when a female kangaroo is shot her joeys must be killed by a “blow to the head” with a “heavy blunt object”. In other words, the law prescribes that joeys be bludgeoned to death.
There are significant concerns that some aspects of kangaroo harvesting are not humane, particularly the killing of pouch young and young-at-foot. They have no commercial value, and must be caught and “euthanized” despite the mobility of young at-foot joeys.
Our kangaroos are our nation’s most powerful symbol, and the icon of Australia recognized all over the world. The words “sustainable”, and “humane” with regards to the commercial kangaroo industry, mask the reality of brutality and the lack of respect for our own nation’s symbols – in the country of the highest mammal extinction rate of the modern world!