The Science of Kangaroos
‘The future of kangaroos: Going, going GONE’? Dr David Croft page 223, “Kangaroos Myths and Realities”: ’The large kangaroos that form the basis of the commercial kangaroo industry- red, eastern grey, western grey kangaroo and common wallaroo- have earned the dubious title of ‘overabundant’ species. Cathy Herbert (2004) discusses some of the challenges of managing such species but most pertinently notes (p 67 Australian Mammology) “…it is very difficult to define the term ‘overabundance’. It is largely defined by human interests and as such it tends to involve subjective, value-laden judgements -” Over- abundance (or overpopulation) implies too many individuals of a species that are either causing harm to themselves (e.g. vicious fighting, starvation), harm to their ecosystem (e,g, landscape dysfunction, endangerment of other species), harm to people (e.g vehicle collision, monetary loss, threats to livelihood) or any combination of these (Caughley 1981).
A typical kangaroo example would be a small peri-urban reserve with a barrier fence. The species will almost inevitably be an eastern grey kangaroo, the population will grow, forage will be depleted, some individuals will starve and die as they cannot easily disperse, some may break thought the fence, eat the neighbour’s lawn or collide with their car. The reserve will most likely be an old farmland with “improved’ pasture invaded by weeds. The exotic grasses will no longer be supported and collapse should come as no surprise’. ‘Kangaroos are all alike’ and ‘too numerous for their own good’ are two of the many myths that are used to justify commercial exploitation and killing of kangaroos to a largely ignorant or indifferent public’.
Macropod expert Croft UNSW(UTS) my co-editor “We need to redeem our most potent symbol turn away from persecution, celebrate our faunal heritage, and all stand up and say, “ I am a kangaroo” The lesson we can learn from the Aboriginal Peoples is that we are part of the land and, if we are lost in the urban jungle, then we should follow the Kangaroo mob and re-establish our relationship with it.”
“Meanwhile the commercial kangaroo industry rolls on governed by an inadequate, unacceptable and unenforceable code of practice. It harvests meat and hides from native wildlife owned by the Crown thus all Australians) at minimal cost and profit for a few. ‘The Future of Kangaroos: Going Going GONE’
UNSW (UTS)scientist Dr Dan Ramp: “With proper planning, ‘control’ methods like culling and fertility programs should be relegated to our unflattering past”
He stressed the need for the following answers:
1) If all of the quota was taken in any given year, how many livestock could be taken off the land? and
(2) How does the kangaroo industry remain sustainable in light of the unpredictability of the harvest given annual variation in populations?