Author Archives: Eve Kelly

Anatomy of an Overseas Campaign

When we look at the possible modern reasons as to why kangaroos are still maligned as ‘pests’, even in drought when their numbers crash, it becomes obvious when you discover the economic benefit big business and government have for perpetuating the misinformation.

Read on, in this excerpt from a forthcoming book by Maria Taylor on Australia’s deadly relationship with its wildlife since colonial times, with a focus on the most persecuted species in modern times, the large kangaroos.
*Copyrighted material, links in red, pic by C. Lynn


Critical overseas views on Australia’s treatment of its wildlife (and that includes the well-loved koala) continues to shine a strong spotlight that hardly penetrates domestically. Australia is not alone in believing its cultural myths and values are civilised while other cultures are barbaric (whale hunts being exhibit A). But overseas critics looking at Australia see an economic narrative steeped in colonial myth and a casual attitude to native animal suffering. VIVA!, the British vegan and animal welfare organisation, across two decades has successfully created a consumer campaign to stop the sale of kangaroo meat in that country’s supermarkets. They have been able to convince celebrities like footballer David Beckham to live without kangaroo leather. Here’s their story as told to me. ‘Killing for Kicks’ Film- Warning Contains Disturbing Footage

“In 1994, shortly after the launch of Viva!, our attention was drawn to a new ‘product’ range in Tesco’s meat chillers, simply labelled ‘kangaroo steaks’. We discovered that this so-called delicacy was the product of the largest slaughter of land based wildlife in history – hunted at night in the vast outback, with powerful four-track vehicles and mesmerising search lights, the startled animals are shot, supposedly in the head.

We obtained video footage of a kangaroo shooter in action, exposing a cruel and barbaric blood bath. The footage showed animals being shot in the throat, their legs slashed open, a hook inserted and they were hauled on to the back of the vehicle, still gasping in agony. Large, still-conscious males were dragged up by their testicles.
“When females were shot, the first action of the killer was to search their pouches for babies. Having found one, he threw it to the ground and stamped on it, grinding his heel on the ‘joey’s’ head. He walked away, leaving it writhing. Obviously, there is no justification for this wildlife massacre and our research revealed the excuses offered by the Australian government were lies.

“Determined to stop this cruelty we targeted Tesco – persistently campaigning for two years to show the truth of the matter to consumers. We printed specific materials for their customers, organising hundreds of local groups outside their stores to distribute it, and supplied information to the media. The culmination was a double-page spread in the News of the World on kangaroo killing; Tesco dropped the trade four days later. That was 26 September 1997. As a result Somerfield also dropped sales, cancelling an entire frozen food range.

“In 1998, Viva!’s director Juliet Gellatley was invited to Australia by various wildlife groups and created a storm of controversy – doing about 50 media interviews and a press conference at Canberra’s Parliament House filmed live on national and regional TV news. She returned to the UK to reinvigorate the campaign – including a demonstration outside Sainsbury’s supermarket’s headquarters in London on 24 July 1998.

“Actress, Pam Ferris, cut up her Sainsbury’s loyalty card in an act of defiance against the industry in front of Australian and British radio and TV cameras. It was followed the next day with 100 demonstrations in the UK outside Sainsbury’s stores and in Australia at restaurants that sold the meat.

“Representatives of the killing industry came to the Brighton demo, desperate to protect their markets. It did them no good because Sainsbury’s also dumped ‘roo meat, followed closely by all major supermarkets – 1,500 stores in all. It led to Juliet being presented with the Australian Wildlife Protection Council award for services to wildlife.”

Despite the victory in Britain, sales of kangaroo meat and leather continued in Australia and the global market was on the rise. Hoping to spread the word and save “these unique and wonderful animals from further persecution” ’Juliet Gellatley returned to Australia in 2002. She appeared on the popular 60 Minutes, exposing key issues with the kangaroo slaughter. She visited the home of a kangaroo shooter to debate the industry. The hope was to build a collaborative network across countries. To some extent that has succeeded.

Viva! told me in 2006 they had another win when, after a four year campaign, David Beckham finally ditched his controversial kangaroo skin football boots in favour of synthetic ones reinforcing their Save the Kangaroo campaign.

Their next victory was in 2008 when they congratulated Booker cash and carry for taking an ethical lead and dropping sales of ‘exotic meat’, including kangaroo, to help preserve species ”after a meeting in which we provided compelling evidence of the cruelty and unsustainable nature inherent in the kangaroo trade. A second leading cash and carry company, Makro, removed sales of kangaroo meat due to similar concerns in 2009.

Kangaroo skin football boots made the headlines once again in 2011, after it was discovered that large manufacturers (such as Adidas) were moving away from using the leather due to pressure from Viva! and other groups. The big four (Adidas, Nike, Umbro and Puma) still use kangaroo leather to some degree. ( Viva, 2018)

Kangaroo meat began making a resurgence in British supermarkets around 2013 when budget chain Lidl introduced a promotional burger range and the Viva! story continued. “We launched an ongoing campaign calling for an end to trade in kangaroo, which secured major press coverage in The Sun newspaper. It didn’t stop there as frozen food giant Iceland followed suit in 2015 with the introduction of so-called ‘exotic meats’ – including kangaroo.

“Another supermarket chain, Morrisons, was also slammed in the national media for putting consumers at risk by selling kangaroo steaks and recommending the meat be cooked “medium rare”. Soon after the deluge of emails from Viva! supporters Morrisons too dumped the range.

As kangaroo meat returned to both Tesco and Sainsbury’s Viva! Moved quickly to condemn them publicly and soon both chains again dropping sales. The latest supermarket victory came with Lidl and Iceland dropping their kangaroo meat lines in 2018.
Significant animal welfare issues and health concerns had been forwarded to Lidl UK’s Managing Director.”

This model campaign, carried out over two decades, showed how persistent the Australian kangaroo killers have been but also that persistence in return paid off.

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‘Bandicoots live among Us in Melbourne’- A response to The Conversation Article

Some Considered Responses to the Article ‘The Conservation – Bandicoots live among as in Melbourne’

SBB Cranbourne, Pic by John Chapman

The study found that bandicoots in peri-urban areas did better in modified habitat, where foxes and cats were abundant, than in remnant native habitat were foxes and cats were also present. I would not call large areas of dense blackberry weeds a ‘NOVEL’ habitat and I also ask, why did some bandicoots have to partially depend on pet food?

On the Mornington Peninsula e.g. in the Frankston area, some 30 years ago, thousands of bandicoots were spread throughout the area. The area contained some native habitat, but mostly modified habitat, including large tracts of blackberry and other weeds. There was also an abundance of foxes and cats and yet, all of the bandicoots are now gone. So, what is the difference here? If it was not the foxes and cats that killed all of the bandicoots, then what else did?

Whatever happened here will surely, albeit slowly, occur in their selected study area. Most of the bandicoots in adjacent large areas of the study area e.g. in Koo Wee Rup, have mostly gone and only a relatively few isolated colonies of bandicoots remain, but for how long?

With regards to there being less SBB in the ‘natural habitats,’ this is subjective as well because depending on the abundance of other species in competition with the SBB for land e.g. wallabies in Cranbourne Botanical Gardens and feral pigs on Quail Island.

This story doesn’t discourage more urban development, nor does it openly insist government improve ongoing fox and cat eradication programs. It doesn’t promote the need for wildlife corridors or predator proof colonies. Protected colonies provide insurance against further, expected losses of bandicoots. The only way bandicoots can now be completely safe is within reserves surrounded by a predator-proof fence, like in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Cranbourne. Similar measures have been used to ensure populations of eastern barred bandicoots.

Hans Brunner, Ecologist

Pic by John Chapman

(See John’s website here:

SBB in the outer suburbs of Melbourne 15th of May 2018.

During spring last year we deployed motion-censored cameras at Settlers Run Golf Course and surrounding precinct, Cranbourne. The camera results indicated that SBB were present through-out the landscape. The reason for their spread is due to the following factors:

  • Royal Botanical Gardens Cranbourne acts like a mother ship for the SBBs due to its predator proof fence and small exit gates that were installed to allow bandicoots to leave the gardens and establish in the surrounding landscape.
  • The gardens conduct fox, cat & rabbit control on a regular basis both inside and outside the predator proof fence.
  • The new precincts that have established around the gardens have been declared cat free sub-divisions.
  • The indigenous habitat that was established post precinct development is ideal for SBBs.

The above factors are the reason why we still have SBBs within the Cranbourne area. Since the late 1980’s we have lost SBBs on the Mornington Peninsula, Frankston, and the sand-belt country that runs from Frankston up past Braeside and Oakleigh. We would also have lost the bandicoots at Cranbourne if the RBGC did not establish a predator proof fence around the gardens and conducted intense fox control.

Since 2008 I have study the SBB populations at Tooradin, Blind Bight, Canons Creek, Quail Island and Koo Wee Rup. All of these populations are isolated and populations seem to rise and crash due to climatic conditions. At the moment we are witnessing a largish decline in these populations. This is also happening at RBGC (Terry Coates fld. obs.). It is worth noting that since pigs were illegally released on Quail Island they have severely damaged the bandicoot habitat and a large decline in the SBB populations has resulted.

DELWP’s recent release of the SBB management plan for the Cranbourne area fails to address the critical scenarios that will keep the last remaining populations viable. They are:

  • No commitment to fox or cat control.
  • Expecting SBBs to disperse along 30m wide corridors which lead to nowhere.
  • Refuse to accept that the only viable way to re-establish SBB populations is to design similar motherships (with predator proof fences and small exit gates) like at RBGC.
  • Not committed to re-establishing SBBs in the Pines Flora & Fauna Reserve and at The Briars Sanctuary.

I feel that rapid climate change and the lack of real commitment from both state & federal governments are the real dangers to the remaining SBB populations.

Malcolm Legg, Ecologist

Pic By John Chapman

Looking at the Study

The report doesn’t state if they researched what pest animal control local council, or other land managers’ had undertaken in the years prior to their study. I would have thought this information was highly relevant. I could find feral animals mentioned in a few places but the pest eradication of the novel sites wasn’t tested.

Comparative studies can provide a direct contrast of the performance of threatened species in novel vs. historically intact habitats; however, few have been conducted. In a meta-analysis conducted by Shwartz et al. (2014), only three out of 80 studies (~4%) documenting threatened species presence in urban environments explicitly tested the performance of urban populations in comparison to those in nearby more intact remnant habitats. Further research is therefore required to build general understanding of the comparative performance of threatened species between novel and more historically intact habitats.’

‘Exotic animal species were common at novel sites, including potential predators (red fox Vulpes vulpes, domestic dog Canus familiaris, domestic cat Felis catus) and potential competitors (black rat Rattus rattus, European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus) of bandicoots ( Schmidt et al., 2009).’

Introduced predators (red foxes, dogs and cats) were also uncommon due to an ongoing integrated pest management strategy at Cranbourne Gardens (Author 2, unpublished data), and physical isolation coupled with an on-going pest control program at Quail Island (although the feral pig Sus scrofa remains present on Quail Island; M. Legg pers. comm.).’

‘Secondly, wildlife populations occupying novel habitats may benefit from the fact that these are likely to occur in inherently more favourable parts of the landscape than areas typically designated for conservation. This is because the more productive or diverse parts of the landscape have generally been the areas of greatest focus for human activities, while “residuals” of remnant vegetation reserved in protected areas tend to occur on drier, less fertile and/or steep terrain ( Joppa and Pfaff, 2009; Margules and Pressey, 2000).’

I would suggest that fox and cat eradication programs may be more numerous and/or effective in urban areas as opposed to remnant hard to reach areas. Data is needed.

Thirdly, it remains unclear how sufficient numbers of bandicoots at novel sites were avoiding predation by invasive red foxes, cats and other predators. Rabbits may be a preferred prey item, but if this is true then any decline in rabbits and subsequent prey-switching by foxes and/or cats could have drastic consequences for bandicoots (Blanco-Aguiar et al., 2012; Glen and Dickman, 2005). Any control of rabbits should thus be accompanied by intensive monitoring to detect any secondary impacts on bandicoots.

The report states ‘It remains unclear how the bandicoots were avoiding predators’. More data is needed.

The Pines Flora Fauna Reserve and Greens Bush on the Mornington Peninsula had lots of bandicoots and linked habitat corridors. These areas had modified habitats with many areas overgrown with blackberry and still the bandicoots died out. If it was, then, just about access to non-native foods, that are also feeding the feral species, this still wouldn’t explain why they died out on the peninsula and not in their ‘novel’ test sites.

Eve Kelly Secretary Australian Wildlife Protection Council

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Kangaroos in Victoria — Status 2019

‘Australia is hooked on killing its wildlife, a gambler playing fast and loose with its biodiversity. Welcome to the State of Victoria and its rapidly dwindling Kangaroo population. There is currently a review of the Victorian Government’s Kangaroo pet food trial, which commenced in March 2014 and ends in March 2019.’

“The general point is that so many places on this vast continent are now completely devoid of Kangaroos, and that includes parts of Victoria, the state, among others, which we have travelled extensively in recent months looking for animals”

Read the full blog here:

‘On our extensive travels, we see similar patterns across the Australian Continent including Western Australia (places like the Pilbara), Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory (Arnhem Land, West MacDonnell Ranges etc) and Tasmania where the Forester Kangaroo is down to well below 10 per cent of its former population. The story in New South Wales and Queensland is perhaps the most distressing of all.

In the case of Kangaroo species, this slaughter of Australia’s wildlife also draws in the dependant young as female Kangaroos with young are also killed and the young are not counted. Pouch dependant young are required by the Australian Government to be killed by a blow to the brain and metal objects such as tow bars are used for this purpose. An old trick is to swing the young by holding their hind feet and smashing their heads on a car bonnet or fence post.’
Peter Hylands


I have written this update analysis about the status of Kangaroos in the southern State of Victoria following a request for an update on the current situation from senior Palawa Woman, Aunty Ro Mudyin Godwin, the Vice President of Australia’s Kangaroos. I place the findings here for the public record. Peter Hylands

All pictures by copyrighted to Creative cowboy films all rights reserved.

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‘Kangaroo’ the Movie

Come along to this screening in Main Ridge on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria


Kangaroo the movie Flyer, Main Ridge Vic

Please check the website for more screenings in cinemas.

You can also host your screening, check their website for details.



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Eyewitness of Kangaroo Cruelty in NSW

Below is a heartfelt but factual account from a landowner in rural NSW.

Whilst some may consider some details of the kangaroo industry, kangaroo ecology, kangaroo numbers and factors such as the drought and climate change debatable, the blatant cruelty that goes on in the killing of kangaroos can not be disputed.

It is totally unacceptable to compassionate and reasonable members of the Australian community.

The following account of what it is like living next to a kangaroo killing property was sent by a couple of NSW land owners to California legislators who were considering lifting a ban on kangaroo products in 2015. The legislature did not do so in the end.

These NSW citizens have been exposed to the commercial kangaroo industry since 2007 after purchasing 500 acres of land to conserve within a rural area in western New South Wales, Australia where three species of kangaroos exist. Commercial ‘harvesting’ by the kangaroo industry occurs along 3 kms of one side of their property.

Non-commercial ‘culling’ as has been greatly expanded in NSW since last September uses the same tactics.  The commercial shooters are said to be the top operators. The recreational shooters being recruited, in an unmonitored program, won’t do better.  This speaks for itself.

‘We have been exposed to commercial kangaroo ‘harvesting’ for seven years in rural New South Wales, Australia. We live amongst it.

We quickly grew to understand why the kangaroo industry doesn’t want you to know what really happens. We have watched with our own eyes, and it is inherently cruel. Kangaroos are pursued at night for hours by a noisy truck with a very bright light. They are shot at or are standing with others that are being shot, often in family groups. They run, all the while being tormented by the light and the loud gunshots, until the shooter comes across them again. They are shot at again, sometimes hit by a bullet, often in the head but not the brain. Or in the neck or the muzzle, then they run again until they are immobilized but not dead.

The wounded kangaroo often has to wait for the shooter to shoot at other individuals until they come back to finish them off. We have heard them vocalise as the shooter approaches to deliver a final blow to the head. A plea for mercy perhaps?

A solid shiny object is wielded into the kangaroo’s head as she struggles. Joeys are often not killed with their mothers but ripped from her pouch and discarded into the bushes, not even counted as a statistical ‘kill’. We hear them calling for their dead mothers until the sun comes up. We see them in the mornings lost and bewildered. We may see them again the next evening, but usually never again after that. This is considered ‘acceptable collateral damage’.

We have seen hundreds of kangaroo’s heads that have been butchered and left in the field. Many do not have a gunshot wound to them. The heads are cut off very low down the neck indicating that the kangaroo may have been miss shot, struck by a bullet in the neck or the torso. We have witnessed kangaroo heads that have been shot in regions of the head other than the brain case, often in the front of the head who may not have died until sometime after, often showing the signs of gruesome secondary trauma from a length of metal pipe or an axe.

We often see kangaroos shot on a previous evening who died on our property while escaping the terror of being continually hunted. We see the trails of blood where the kangaroo has had her throat cut. The body is hung on the back of the truck to bleed out. We see the butchering sites where the shooters stop to ‘dress’ the kangaroo. Cutting off heads, tails, legs and forearms before opening the torso to tip out the viscera. Joeys are often left lying amongst the remains of what was their mother, still smelling like their mother, until they die of exposure or predation. The scene is macabre.

The group social structure is ruined. The mob is in disarray. The fields smell of death.

Such an integral part of the biodiversity of the Australian rangelands — hunted down, killed and then butchered in a dirty, dusty truck bed.’


The kangaroo is a gentle animal. The hunting is relentless, mostly brutal and often barbaric. We have lived it. It has to stop.

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‘Progress’ leave victims homeless- AWPC Speaks Out

Australian Wildlife Protection Council secretary Eve Kelly said while regulations required a permit from the Mornington Peninsula Shire to remove vegetation, the protection of wildlife was covered by the Wildlife and Cruelty to Animals acts.

“I would like to know how these acts are enforced when there are active nests in trees being felled,” she said.

“It has been brought to our attention that many trees in cities, suburbs and surrounding areas are being cleared, for various reasons. Many of these old and young trees, both native and non-indigenous, have active nests of native animals.

“If a tree has active nests of native birds, ringtail possum, brushtail possum or sugar gliders living in hollows or in a nest, what are the DELWP regulations regarding its removal? How are these regulations enforced? Who should concerned community members report to if there are breached regulations?”

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