Category Archives: Member News

How Canberra tells you what to think

canberra-kangaroo-cull-2021-crBrettClifton

EVERY MAY MOTHER’S DAY or thereabouts, Canberra politicians, Labor, Green and Liberal, spoil the season by giving thumbs up to what they like to portray as an unremarkable slaughter of our national emblem in the nation’s capital.

On public nature reserves, this involves shooting kangaroo families — mums and males — bashing pouch joeys to death, and bulldozing all their bodies into pits. Lost and bewildered older joeys flee, jump in front of cars or end at the mercy of dogs. Neighbouring residents can be traumatised by the carnage that continues every night for months.

MAIN IMAGE: © Brett Clifton.

Already signed is a deal to continue the killing for another five years, with militarised contractors hunting in the suburbs for surviving animals. Unless it’s stopped by voters. It costs the public purse close to a million dollars annually. The real reason why this is happening? That’s still anyone’s guess.

But Canberra nature park managers or politicians offer residents a revolving list of ‘facts’ on why the killing must happen. Their assertions are amplified by the local media. No questions asked. Few dissenting voices get a platform and if they are mentioned they are labelled ‘protesters’, ‘activists’, ‘animal rights advocates’ (heaven forbid) — anything other than just plain concerned citizens of Australia.

I have watched this annual ritual for the past decade and sadly reported on it, and recently researched and wrote a book on the history, culture and legacy of Australia’s wildlife killing habits www.mariataylor.com.au. Canberrans are subject to the same narrative about kangaroos as the rest of the country. We’re all encouraged to agree and shrug. Elsewhere when a group is demonised prior to killing, it’s called propaganda.

We must all think alike

What we have is a dominant narrative on how to think about kangaroos. How to think is sold to the public in lockstep by economic interests (commercial kangaroo processors, grazier and farming lobbies) working with politicians and government power. Their perspective is supported or supplied by some applied ecologists and ‘pest’ management specialists, mostly taxpayer funded. What they all say is uncritically reported in most Australian media.

You can hear this narrative any day of the week and it is on the upswing at the moment with a move in the United States Congress to ban the import of Australian kangaroo skin and meat. The EU is also being asked to consider bans. This pushback is portrayed by Australian officials and mainstream media outlets as an assault on a must-have export industry. The word ‘treasonous’ has been used.

The remaining large kangaroos are now Australia’s most persecuted indigenous animal with an unchanging storyline to justify the extensive bloodshed.

The world loves Skippy the bush kangaroo and he or she draws tourists by the planeload. This unique marsupial holds up one half of our national coat of arms —along with the equally unique emu — also a victim of mass persecution since settlement.

Yet at home, we became a culture of silence and conformity that treats the kangaroo as either a pest or a product.

We lead the world

The treatment of native wildlife since colonial times has morphed in the past 70 years into the world’s biggest on-land wildlife slaughter of kangaroos, for their skins and meat and just for removal. Almost no Australians appear to know this. The much beloved koala — now on the brink of regional extinctions — suffered a similar savage slaughter for its fur coat up until the mid-1920s and has never recovered.

The ACT may claim that its killing is somehow better because it is non-commercial, but the cull is very much part of that post-colonial value tradition.

big-fella-ACT-cull-supplied
IMAGE: Supplied.

What are those values? Disrespect and disinterest in understanding the contributions of native grazers in balanced ecosystems. And flat-out demonisation of any native animal that bothers agricultural businesses or sometimes other commercial interests, or ACT motorists. That starts with grazing kangaroos and wallabies, but also targets emus, wombats, dingos, eagles, other birds. Culturally, there is a direct line of thinking from colonial times.

This thinking has become so embedded in the narrative that any claims about ‘too many’, and that our export nation and graziers need kangaroos to be killed, just gets an automatic nod from media organisations starting with the national broadcaster and seen throughout Australia’s highly-concentrated private press. Overseas visitors are amazed at the disrespect, while most Australians stay silent.

The Canberra cull is related in cultural understanding and dog whistling ‘pest’ and ‘too many’.

Now Canberra’s advising ecologists have pivoted to another compelling narrative that deflects enquiries: the story now is that all of ‘biodiversity’, which suddenly does not include kangaroos, benefits from the annual slaughter. Females with pouch-joeys and dependent young can be killed more freely under this framework in the ACT’s code of practice.

PR relies on scientists

This culture is across Australia — the commercial kangaroo industry has a very active PR operation and often relies on supporting voices that say ‘trust us, we’re scientists”.  ACT narratives have relied on similar claims of scientific insight.

Missing: reports about the role of all
kangaroo species in their ecosystems

What’s missing? Any reporting about the benefits of coexistence and what that might look like.

Missing is any reporting on research about the role of all kangaroo species in their ecosystems — what do they contribute to healthy grassy woodlands? They co-evolved with those habitats. Equally missing are voices that tell us what kangaroos and other wildlife could contribute to Australia, to Canberra and to farm economies through tourism and related spending.

© Maria Taylor.

Our native wildlife is much more valuable alive than dead. A new win-win narrative must highlight respect, ecological understanding and a decision to share our land.

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Good news: Largest U.S. kangaroo leather market now half of what it was

roo-shoes

Kangaroo Skin Shoe Sales Halted by Key U.S. Retailer
Following Launch of New Campaign

State’s largest violator of ban on selling kangaroo parts
changes course after law enforcement pays a visit

(LOS ANGELES) — Niky’s Sports, California’s largest soccer goods retailer, has stopped selling kangaroo skin soccer shoes (or “cleats”) through its eight stores, adhering to a state law banning commerce in kangaroo body parts after long being out of compliance, according to the Center for a Humane Economy.

Niky’s Sports CEO Luis Orellana, who runs the business with family members Eder, Edson, and Marlon, refused to comment to the Center about the decision to halt illegal sales. Niky’s Sports sold more kangaroo skin soccer shoes than any other California retailer, Center investigators said. Niky’s has stores in Los Angeles, Lancaster, South Gate, Bell Gardens, Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Woodland Hills.

Niky’s Sports’ policy change came after a warning letter from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, a visit by police detectives, inquiries from state elected officials, and ongoing, in-person monitoring by Center volunteers.

With Niky’s coming into compliance, Xtreme Soccer is now the most egregious violator of this law, the Center believes. David Mora, who owns the retail chain with California stores in Anaheim, Bakersfield, Hawaiian Gardens, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, and Torrance, admitted in writing to the Center’s investigators that his stores are illegally selling kangaroo skin soccer shoes and did not agree to halt sales. As late as Friday, February 19, Xtreme Soccer was selling a number of models of illegal shoes. His salesperson even acknowledged to our undercover customer that they are illegal.

EVIDENCE: This photo taken February 19, 2021, at the Xtreme Soccer store in Hawaiian Gardens, CA shows one of several models of illegal kangaroo skin shoes currently being sold by Xtreme Soccer, now California’s most egregious violator of California’s law banning all commerce in kangaroo body parts. This Umbro Medusae III Elite sells for $224.95 and, according to other store owners, is among the illegal models that turn large profits for lawbreakers.

Pro Soccer of Pasadena, CA, which previously offered customers one of the largest single-store inventories of illegal soccer cleats in the state, recently halted all sales of kangaroo skin shoes, according to Pro Soccer President Tony Tatikian.

A Center investigation in 2020 found widespread violations of California’s ban on the commerce of kangaroo-derived products, given the lack of enforcement of California Penal Code § 653o. Officials from California Fish and Wildlife and other agencies are now taking action to increase compliance.

“We documented more than 100 stores in California illegally selling kangaroo skin soccer shoes or cleats,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy, “and we believe that number has been cut in half since we launched our effort to see that the law is obeyed. We will continue to apply pressure until the trade in kangaroo parts stops at all retail outlets.” The ban applies to on-line as well as brick-and-mortar sales.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, headquartered in Pennsylvania but with outlets throughout California, promptly stopped selling kangaroo leather when approached by the Center, citing coding errors with vendors’ software, and has rededicated itself to following the law. Nike.com and adidas.com have also said they will start following the law after the Center’s investigation revealed their regular sales of kangaroo-based shoes into the state.

If Niky’s decision is replicated by other retailers, the impact could be felt on the other side of the planet where two million wild kangaroos are slaughtered each year in Australia largely for soccer shoes. California’s market is one of the largest in the world — and about 15 percent of the U.S. market for kangaroo products. Closing it off to shoe manufacturers applies pressure on the retailers to halt their involvements in the largest commercial wildlife slaughter in the world — far larger and bloodier than the infamous seal hunts in Atlantic Canada.

California’s groundbreaking law, which was a precursor to the U.S. Endangered Species Act, also protects many other species such as polar bears, dolphins, tigers, and sea turtles.

U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., representing Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, and other communities, introduced the Kangaroo Protection Act, H.R. 917, with Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (Penn.) this month to establish a national ban on the trade in kangaroo parts. The bill, crafted in cooperation with the Center and its sister organisation Animal Wellness Action, promptly generated discussion on the floor of the Australian Parliament. In September, Carbajal and two other Congressmen urged California’s Attorney General to fully enforce California’s ban.

Two Hollywood filmmakers made a short film released by the Center earlier this month revealing the true source of some Nike soccer shoes. The video went viral after numerous celebrities, including Ricky Gervais and Woody Harrelson, posted it on social media. View it here.

The Center recognizes Soccer Loco, with locations in San Diego, Carlsbad, and San Ysidro, as a prime example of a retailer choosing to follow the law from the beginning even as competitors chose to violate the law.

“We are using the power of the California marketplace to push Nike and others to recognize that the era of making shoes by killing kangaroos in their native habitats must end,” said Pacelle.

jeff@centerforahumaneeconomy.org

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AWPC 2020 Annual Report, Minutes

AWPC-editorial-Jan2020-v3

January 2020 — January 2021

IN NOVEMBER 2019, a new managing committee was voted in on a platform of revitalising the AWPC work and organisation for Australian wildlife:

President: Peter Hylands
Secretary, Administration Manager: Carmen Ryan
Treasurer: Maria Taylor
Committee Members: Chris Lehmann, Jan Heald (later resigned).

The committee’s work began in earnest in January 2020 with a challenging list of tasks to realise the goals of revitalising and raising the profile and professional resources of the AWPC on behalf of the membership’s desire to help wildlife.

These are the highlights to report for 2020 as AWPC restarted work for Australia’s wildlife in conjunction with many concerned citizens and community groups.

In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Australia and affected activities and meetings throughout the reporting year.

Partly in response to the restrictions imposed by COVID, but also as part of the necessary modernisation of resources and tools as a national organisation, a focus in 2020 was the use of digital communications. Committee members worked from home and this also saved the organisation a lot of money.

Committee meetings were conducted on Zoom, including the delayed 2020 AGM. Organised by Carmen as an AWPC pioneering effort, the AGM was held in January 2021. It became clear that COVID restrictions would not abate quickly to allow in-person national meetings.

The AWPC website was updated with professional assistance and now holds more news and enhanced educational content, taking over from the previous print newsletter. Web manager Sue Van Homrigh, working with the AWPC interim communications editor (Maria), designed the upgrade and posted information throughout the year.

The website with relevant ‘buttons’ on the right-hand side of the home page also has become the pathway for new membership applications and donations. In a difficult year this has been effective with minimal marketing and outreach. Experience showed marketing and outreach need to be stepped up.

Outreach and the financial resources of the organisation are the focus of a proposed business plan, which will be undertaken in 2021 hopefully with the guidance of a volunteer business mentor recruited through UTS business school MBA board volunteer program. The program offers the AWPC committee a business school graduate with some prior experience in not-for-profit board tasks. Practically these include fundraising, outreach to patrons and donors and crafting a business plan.

The plan is aimed at establishing fundraising goals and the means to achieve those goals linked to specific wildlife education/information campaigns designated by the committee. The mentor joins the committee for 12 months and gains further experience.

The Mailchimp bulk mailout system was used in 2020 by the web manager to alert the membership to issues and content; and to AWPC meetings.

In 2020, the AWPC president’s role has been fulfilled by Peter with numerous information and wildlife education engagements conducted in person — face-to-face or electronically — with public officials and politicians; and with media, and community members. The website reported to membership on a range of these initiatives. Peter’s president’s report unpacks some of this work and highlights the enduring and urgent issues posed by state government wildlife policies, particularly focused on Victoria.

Late in 2020, the AWPC was able to welcome the full-time voluntary commitment of Chris Lehmann as the organisation’s kangaroo campaigner. Chris worked effectively and tirelessly providing help, advice and information to community members and groups who approach the AWPC with issues related to public and private harming of kangaroos. He also liaises with kangaroo advocacy groups to leverage the effort. Chris has started outlining some strategic directions for this work in 2021. His report to the AGM covers these areas.

From the digital ‘front office’ Carmen was able to sympathetically counsel concerned community members and refer them to committee members or other organisations best able to help them.

To make the most of digital possibilities for communication and also experiment with some campaign targets, social media outreach was busy in 2020 with some young volunteer help. This entailed posting regularly on Facebook (FB) and Instagram and starting an AWPC YouTube channel. The pilot work was effective, judging by response on these platforms and underscores the necessity to continue this vital role in 2021. In the interim Chris is continuing social media outreach for kangaroos on FB.

meme-awpc-promoKangaroo memes (images and a simple message) were developed by Maria with web-manager and designer Sue. These were posted in rotation by the social media assistant, particularly during the ACT kangaroo shooting months and later prior to the ACT election. The focus was on positive and educational messages and frame-changes about this relentlessly persecuted wildlife species. Possibly the educational messaging helped elect an unprecedented six Greens to the ACT Assembly. (Sample meme pictured here.)

The AWPC committee also made submissions, on behalf of members, to government agencies during 2020 on issues including the (watered down) Code of Practice for shooting kangaroos and the federal review of the EPBC Act. These submission with extensive work and information have been archived on the AWPC website awpc.org.au. In the interest of transparent public information, the AWPC office also lodged Freedom of Information requests in 2020, particularly regarding the anti-wildlife activities of the Victorian government on public land. AWPC experienced a surprising level of non-cooperation to these requests.

Committee members Maria and Carmen spent many hours starting to organise and catalogue the AWPC library/archive, including publications reflecting decades of wildlife work since the organisation started in the 1970s. The archive provided unique historical material to researchers in 2020 as it has in previous years. The committee has found a dedicated volunteer to continue and finalise this work in 2021. The goal is to find the collection a permanent home both physically and digitally with access for the public, researchers and students.

> READ: AWPC AGM 2020 Minutes

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AWPC President’s Report for 2020: Wildlife must come first

Kangaroo-slaughter-cr-Craig-Thomson_AWPC-archives

AS I WRITE this, I have just finished a radio interview with John Nicolson, a Scottish journalist, broadcaster and Scottish National Party politician on London Radio. The discussion this time was about what is being done to Australian wildlife in Victoria by the very government that should be protecting it. There is great concern around the world about what is happening to Australia’s wildlife in Victoria, where things under the current Labor Government are terrible, the same concern exists for all other states and territories around the country.

The aggressive actions by all Australian Governments in enabling the large scale killing of wildlife is occurring despite the catastrophic fires of last summer, despite other climate change impacts and despite all we hear about global extinctions. Surrounding these government activities are significant expenditures to market the acceptability of the killing, which also attempts to demean the Australian species being targeted. Kangaroos are of course in the frontline of the mindless propaganda.

ABOVE: Kangaroo slaughter. Credit Craig Thomson. Source AWPC archives.

I am firstly concerned by the extreme acts of cruelty being perpetrated on Australian wildlife; secondly, I am concerned about what is occurring to Australian species and the continual endangerment of these animals, as more and more Australian species edge towards the brink. There is a growing and third concern, which is the matter of human rights. In this regard I am currently producing a series of films ‘Kangaroo testimonies’ which describe the suffering of land owners as their wildlife populations are butchered around them. These stories are heartbreaking, and how governments can inflict this cruelty on their citizens is beyond any understanding, certainly mine.

At the political level, Australian wildlife has few friends. The Liberal and National Parties remain notorious for their conduct in this area. Labor too, in Victoria, when it comes to wildlife, the current Labor Government outguns the Liberal Nationals by a very long way. In the ACT, the Kangaroo-killer-in-chief has long been a Green, that portfolio is now under a Labor. Let us hope the Greens in the ACT begin to change their spots. We will be working on it. What has occurred in South Australia in the last few years is a disgrace and all the others are just as bad.

In Queensland, a Labor government has handed out macropod extermination licenses to graziers and is enabling the cluster fencing disaster that kills all wildlife, erected with taxpayer money over the past five years. In NSW, a Liberal National government since 2019, has had a de-facto open season on Kangaroos to “help the graziers combat drought” the killing has not abated following the fires. In NSW and Victoria, governments are using 1080 poison in state reserves and parks.

Regarding the use of 1080 in Victoria, note the following:

My question on notice via Green’s Ellen Sandell — Victorian Parliament.

In Victoria has any of the funding allocated from the Government’s January 2020 $17.5 million wildlife and biodiversity rescue package been used for lethal control of pest species, including use of aerial drops of 1080?

(Note Kangaroo meat is used extensively in Australia as a substrate for aerial and other baiting — the use of 1080 poison in aerial drops is banned in most countries around the world because of cruelty reasons and its indiscriminate impact on numerous species.)

The substrate for aerially deployed 1080 baits in Victoria does not contain kangaroo. All aerial bait lines and bait drops are mapped with tree canopy cover considered in developing bait lines. Bait drops are deployed accurately using aircraft navigation, specialised equipment and GPS technology based on heights and airspeed according to environmental conditions. Bait lodgement in the canopy of trees is not a concern.

The impact of pest animals in fire-impacted areas can greatly affect the survival of native plants and animals and the recovery of threatened species and their habitat. Intensified and sustained control of pest animals has been funded as a priority immediate action under the Biodiversity Bushfire Relief and Early Recovery (BBRER) program.

A range of integrated control techniques will be used, including aerial and ground shooting, trapping and ground baiting. Baits used as part of the ground baiting will be buried at an appropriate depth to reduce the risk of non-target impact. No aerial baiting will be funded under the BBRER program. The use of alternatives to 1080 baits, such as PAPP (para-aminopropiophenne) based products, will be trialled in BBRER funded projects. PAPP is a humane, fast-acting toxin.

Note: 1080 baits are and have been used extensively in Victoria and other programs continue.

To be frank, what I have been fed by governments, as they try to make excuses about their behaviour, is a feeble set of excuses and more generally a pack of nonsense. Given the vast loss of wildlife during 2020 from climate change events, the government-enabled killing continues unabated. I have very large problems with what I am seeing regarding standards of governance from some of these governments, the extreme and prejudicial conduct and standards of honesty, and even so under FOI (Freedom of Information). The question is why is this occurring and why do politicians see a benefit to themselves in promoting the mass killing of Australian wildlife? So we are left with the AJP (Animal Justice Party), who now have leverage in the NSW and Victorian Parliaments. We need to give them every assistance. The Greens need to look carefully at what they are doing when it comes to the protection of Australian species.

I am very pleased that my colleague Chris Lehmann is now responsible, on behalf of the AWPC, for managing our Kangaroo response in Australia and internationally.

As in many exploitative industries, unsustainable ‘harvesting’ has led to ‘prey switching’ to new species which is now occurring along with the expansion of ‘operational areas’, where the industry is now shooting kangaroos, South Australia and Victoria are among recent examples. This is occurring as a number of kangaroo shooting zones are closed in other states because of the dramatic decline in kangaroo populations. While we were all in lockdown, the South Australian Government informed me that kangaroo killing would be allowed to continue because it was an essential service. This is the level of stupidity we now live under.

A matter of contempt

I will use Victoria as an example here because something very bad happened on Christmas Eve, which showed contempt for wildlife carers and other regional Victorians living peacefully with their wildlife, in often, once government encouraged, conservation and Land for Wildlife Properties.

On Christmas Eve 2020 I started to receive messages that the Victorian Government had emailed kangaroo shooters and those engaged in the commercial trade in wildlife informing them of the following changes in their ability to trade commercially in Australian wildlife (prior to any public announcement of the changes and prior to the release of kangaroo survey data, nor did they inform any wildlife protection organisations or carers):

  • The commercial quota of Kangaroos in Victoria would be lifted from 57,000 animals to 90,000 animals in 2021 (it looks like they managed to find 40,000 Kangaroos for commercial trade in 2019);
  • That Kangaroo meat in Victoria would now be approved for human consumption and including international export (this in the middle of a zoonotic caused global pandemic); and
  • Interstate sales from Victoria of commercially killed Kangaroos would be approved from 2021.

Needless to say this sent a wave of fear and anxiety — emotions already high — across many residents in regional Victoria who care for their wildlife, run wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centres and have wildlife properties etc. And that translated into a nightmare for us because of the level of concern being direct at us, so our Christmas period was turned on its head in the awful and terrible nature of what was going on. The timing of this, even if it was predictable given the prejudicial standards I describe, was immensely cruel.

Since that time the Victorian Government has not responded to any questions on the matter, this suggests there was some ‘freelancing of information to mates’ prior to any formal government announcements. The standards of governance and duty-of-care relating to this matter are among the most egregious I have seen and full of contempt for those who care about wildlife, particularly so, those individuals living in regional areas who will find themselves in the frontline of the slaughter.

Australian mammal and bird species are in the frontline of commercial hunting activities, recreational hunting and damage mitigation permits. Like all other classes of life, and perhaps particularly so in Australia, they are also in the frontline of climate change. So duck shooting seasons are now being announced, South Australia is (as usual) in the frontline of these announcements, this year removing two duck species from the slaughter of birdlife, these are the Australasian Blue-winged Shoveler and Pink-eared Duck. Neither should we forget the fate of Quail and all the other birdlife caught up in the slaughter.

Submissions to inquiries

We have made a series of submissions to governments and their inquiries and their funded agencies, these include the new code for kangaroo killing — which was not acknowledged, our recommendations completely ignored, nor were we informed of its publication. So days of work wasted. So rude and prejudicial behaviour once again by people whose salaries we are paying for. I will follow this up directly with the individuals involved.

We have made a joint submission with the Animal Protectors Alliance to the Commonwealth Government’s EPBC Review. I quote,

“the complete failure of the EPBC Act, as the only Commonwealth environmental legislation to protect Australia’s environment and to conserve its biodiversity, has resulted in the deaths of billions of individual animals (including invertebrates) and the destruction of thousands of ecosystems. If Australia’s ongoing war against its natural environment is not checked by some form of strong national regulation, the devastation will ultimately extend from natural systems and species to both humans and all the other animals that are (theoretically) in human care.”

While the EPBC report itself was sensible, the subsequent conduct from the Commonwealth Government and its Environment Minister is likely to have the opposite outcome.

Victoria has had two inquiries of direct interest to the AWPC during the year, these were the Loss of biodiversity inquiry and the Review of the animal cruelty POCTA Act. Submission were made to both inquiries and I am awaiting a response. Previous to the submissions I prepared a briefing document covering the issues relating to biodiversity loss for the Greens in Melbourne.

A top-line recommendation in relation to the POCTA Act review was:

“There can only be one recommendation in relation to the matters expressed in this document, that is to halt the persecution of and the extreme cruelty exacted on Kangaroo species (and Wallaby species) in Victoria with a proper and independent investigation of what has occurred and why it has occurred.”

Red Kangaroo

Working with the AJP, in late 2019, we managed to save the remaining Red Kangaroo population in Victoria from the petfood trade. We were persistent in this matter and eventually succeeded. Contempt is such, however, that the Victorian Government will continue to issue ATCW (Authority to Control Wildlife) permits until the species is all but gone. Nothing however can be taken as fixed in this current environment, so we must stay vigilant.

Climate change

The situation regarding action to slow climate change in Australia continues to be a poor one. The situation looks something like this: Australia’s target of a 26 percent reduction of 2005 GHG (Green House Gas) emission levels by 2030 is currently on track for only a genuine 7 percent reduction (that is, without previous target carry-over “credits” being considered) in 2030. Poor policies mean that there continues to be limited action in transport, existing buildings, industrial processes, wastes and agriculture National Greenhouse Gas Inventory (NGGI) sectors. The Climate Change Performance Index, used by Climate Change Tracker, found that the best performing countries are Sweden, Denmark and Morocco, and the worst performing are Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the United States. New Zealand was ranked 34 and Australia 53 of the 58 countries assessed. If Australian fossil fuel exports are embedded into emissions it is likely that Australia’s global share of emissions is somewhere in the region of 3.3 percent.

Among the serious problems impacting biodiversity:

“Changes to the Eastern Australian Current appear to have contributed to a stronger than usual upwelling and more dramatic changes in temperature. The East Australia Current now runs further south than it used to, and is more intense. The current has been affected by climate change, and projections show that the oceans in south-eastern Australia will have the greatest increases in sea temperature in our region. This may cause further changes to the current, resulting in more frequent and intense upwellings in the future”.  — CES

The biggest of bungles

Among the most egregious outcomes for wildlife, the most bungled wildlife rescue of all, was the Victorian Government’s response to wildlife rescue in the state. The numbers I would like you to think about are these:

Total estimated funding for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in Australia following catastrophic fires, local international and all government sources $500,000,000.

3,000,000,000 animals lost and 270 rescued in Victoria from public lands, that is a shocker in anyone’s language.

General matters

I would like to thank the AWPC committee for all its hard work in 2020 and to our young volunteers. A special thank you to all volunteers including Carmen for her work on administrative matters; Sue and Maria, respectively for their design and editorial management of the AWPC website and social media platforms. Also to acknowledge all the work of the committee team, the front office and the communications work that was pivotal in 2020 — all were focused on wildlife work in practice and execution, and that as a team effort they complimented the on-ground and personal outreach work that Chris and I had completed.

All of it very time consuming work, particularly given the circumstances I describe here. This has meant that Chris and I could concentrate on matters directly relating to wildlife and its protection.

The tasks that lie ahead of us for 2021 include:

  • A new ‘business’ plan — I would probably describe this as a strategic plan as we properly document the most effective things that the AWPC can do to assist wildlife in the next five-year period (this work is being supervised by Ian Higgins from the University of Technology Sydney as part of their mentor program);
  • A new website for better communications, continued social media development, including increasing international engagement;
  • An online archive of AWPC resources — which document a valuable history of wildlife and the efforts to protect it; and
  • To develop and publish information about wildlife and what is happening to it, including a new book authored by Maria Taylor, Injustice: hidden in plain sight, the war on Australian nature, and film from Peter Hylands, capturing some of the events I discuss here.

Peter Hylands, AWPC President
18 January 2021

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Report on kangaroo-related topics

kinley-estate-media-release-aug2020

Written by Chris Lehmann (with contributions from many others)

Strategy

We spend a lot of effort developing strategic ideas to improve the lot of kangaroos, actually, to restore their fully protected status as an iconic animal of this land, treasured by most (never will it be all), and protected to live a natural life of freedom without harm from humans. Much work has been done and much remains to do. Elements of the strategy will become evident from a review of the detailed report below.

Cries for help

We cannot hear the kangaroos cry for help, though they do. What we hear are the cries of anxious, fearful and concerned citizens who are observing cruelty or prejudice toward kangaroos in their own communities. We responded to all those requests and some of them morphed into the larger campaigns documented below. Some folks never responded to our contact. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources (yet) to step in on every single issue as an active player, but our commitment is to advise and support anyone who wants to help protect kangaroos.

National Code of Practice (for killing kangaroos)

Along with many others, we made a detailed submission to the 2020 revision of the code of practice. We despise many aspects of the code, especially the treatment of joeys, but the other main concern is this — even if it were a good code (which it is not), the task of enforcing it is impossible and the authorities just do not care.

Two major negative changes have made it through the review, those being (1) the guideline to specifically avoid killing females has been removed and (2) they have deemed that furless joeys have no conscious feeling capacity and can be treated as such. Thus, a very bad outcome for the kangaroos, which shooters will interpret liberally since there is no governance or compliance checking on their behaviour.

Probably the greatest concern though is this, the review process proved that the authorities only engage us with the intent of creating the illusion of public consultation. In reality, our efforts are wasted time and resources, they ignore or ‘erase’ our deeply felt concerns and reasoned, impassioned pleas on behalf of animals, then they simply charge ahead with their killing or abuse agenda in many forms (torment, separation, killing, hunting, consuming).

Therein lies the greatest danger ahead for wildlife, there is no legitimate and effective way for their concerns to be taken seriously and acted upon with the interests of the wildlife in mind.

The Kinley Kangaroo mob

A cry for help saw us get involved in the Kinley campaign to save, rather relocate, a group of about 35 kangaroos resident on a landlocked development site in greater Melbourne. We were a founding member in building the public awareness and social media presence for this mob. We were active in early calls to the developer to understand the facts of the matter.

A local team, led by Andy Meddick and Vets for Compassion took up the baton and developed a relocation plan, which the developer submitted to DELWP as an alternative to the previously approved plan to simply shoot them all.

We have waited a year for that decision, only now to discover that underhand moves are afoot for DELWP to regain control of the process and the outcomes. What we know about the alternate plan is not good (I assure you) and we now await developments.

Dunkeld and exclusion fencing

Dunkeld, in the vicinity of Gariwerd (formerly Grampians) National Park is a microcosm of the dire predicament for kangaroos in Victoria. A cry for help led us to discover:

• Commercial shooters acting brazenly in close proximity to residents.

• Hideous angled fencing which appears designed to trap a kangaroo mid flight.

• People being treated in inhuman ways with no care for their legitimate concerns
about livelihoods and quality of life.

This project is very much in the early active stages, consisting of the following:

• Collaboration with Centre for a Humane Economy, AJP and others to act on all the
above concerns.

• Developing a ‘Survival Guide’ for people being abused/threatened by the kangaroo
killing industry in Victoria.

• Potential for legal action along the lines of abuse of human rights.

CWA Victoria

The CWA Victoria (~350 branches) passed a resolution in their 2020 national meeting (circa April 2020) calling on the Victorian government to kill more kangaroos due to their ‘plague numbers’.

When we discovered the resolution, around October, the media was no longer interested in the story. So … we took a more direct approach.

The President and I met twice with the President of the CWA and she asked us to make a submission to the Executive, which would be shared with all branches in the lead up to the next state-wide meeting in April/May 2021. We analysed their quite detailed resolution and identified those points of agreement and disagreement. That has been delivered.

There are branches in revolt at the resolution, which made it through (some think) because it was a zoom meeting with all the attendant problems about proper interaction and debate. We have been in contact with some of those CWA rebels.

The current plan is to bring this issue to the fore, hopefully out into the media, around the time of the next state meeting when we hope it will be a ‘news’ event. The strategy here is to tackle every single claim of plague populations with the following response:

• Please show us the ‘plague of kangaroos’.
• We will then bring resources to bear to assist in a compassionate manner.

Of course, we will never be shown any plague because they don’t exist. The basic objection to anyone who says there are too many kangaroos will be based on the following:

• No one knows how many kangaroos there were in Australia, there are no official baseline numbers, but a professional ecologist has used two different methods to derive a rough estimate of approximately 1 billion pre-European invasion.

• No one knows how many kangaroos exist right now because the current survey methods have been discredited and cannot be trusted (e.g. they count the density of kangaroos in woodland and then apply that to all farmland and all urban areas at the same density).

• No one knows how many kangaroos are being killed in total. The commercial kill can be measured, but the non-commercial kill is a complete mystery, as are other sources of removal (drought, vehicle impacts, disease etc).

• Anyone who claims to have a sustainable method for kangaroo killing is lying and would lose a serious court battle if one could be created (there is an idea for you).

If one takes the current population estimate of the major killed species, at 30–50 million, then we can roughly start with the idea that numbers are down by 95%. The sad reality is those numbers are based on discredited survey methods and the truth is likely far less, which becomes evident to anyone that traverses the country at eye level and looks for kangaroos.

Organising for success

We will never win the battle for kangaroos on our own. We must form coalitions and organise to combine resources for national and global impact. To that end, in 2020 we have formed a local Victorian team (see the Dunkeld notes above) and we were invited to join the Kangaroos Alive! Coalition with national/global strategic aims. We also partnered with Centre for a Humane Economy to support their ‘Kangaroos are not shoes’ campaign. CHE discovered that kangaroo leather is being sold in California (Nike and others) despite laws prohibiting the sale. We also expect to be an active player in the Kangaroos Alive! Coalition, having offered to take the lead on some aspects of the various actions.

During the year, we linked with Sophie Chao who is an anthropologist proposing to study the love-hate relationship with kangaroos in Australia.

ACT kangaroo report to AWPC AGM 2020

Remnant mobs in old Canberra wiped out: recruitment down

by Frankie Seymour — Animal Protectors Alliance

THE AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL Territory (ACT) government, for the purposes of its annual kangaroo massacre, always wildly overestimates the number of kangaroos present on the urban reserves of the Canberra Nature Park. Consequently, for some years now, there have been no kangaroos left on the reserves after the slaughter; essentially the remnant mobs that survived the construction of Canberra are now entirely extinct.

However, with normal dispersal of juveniles from the ACT’s own national parks, along with refugees escaping from the open slather persecution now underway in surrounding NSW, kangaroo populations have always reappeared in the reserves just in time for the next year’s carnage.

Because of the fires last year, this recruitment from outside did not occur at its usual scale in 2020, and many of the kangaroos that did arrive were weakened and vulnerable due to sustained hunger after the fires destroyed their former habitat.

This did not stop the ACT government, whose real agenda is apparently the total extermination of kangaroos in the urban areas of the ACT, reporting they had slaughtered 2,000 kangaroos on the urban reserves in 2020. Because of the good rains later in 2020, there are likely to be more kangaroos on the reserves than there were last year by the time this year’s massacre commences, but still not enough for more than a handful to survive the planned 2021 killings.

The ACT government has now signed a five-year contract for the ongoing annual slaughter with what is essentially a paramilitary outfit “Strathbogie Wildlife”.

Since 2013, there has been tri-partisan support (Labor, Liberals and Greens) in the ACT Legislative Assembly for the annual slaughter. A recent development stemming from last year’s election is that there are now six Green members in the 25 MLA-strong Assembly (there is no upper house). The local Greens’ membership is deeply divided on the kangaroo issue — between those who have been conned and those who have bothered to look at the science and the documented facts.

Animals advocacy groups operating in the ACT (the Animal Protectors Alliance, the Animal Defenders Office, Animal Liberation ACT, the Animal Justice Party of the ACT and with information support of AWPC) are planning to focus our lobbying on the new Greens MLAs urging them to withdraw their support for the cruelty, violence and ecological vandalism of the current kangaroo killing policy.

Since the annual pogrom began in 2008, the local media (except for the District Bulletin which is based outside the ACT) had refused to publish any in-depth coverage of the issue, while publishing the ACT government’s evidence-free propaganda for killing kangaroos as if it were gospel truth.

Consequently, the other strategy animal advocacy groups are planning for this year’s slaughter is to find ways to bypass the mainstream news media with less reliance on the often-closed circuit of social media: more of a street presence, letterboxing, drive-by advertising, and out of reach signage especially outside reserves that are closed for shooting.

Anyone who is willing to help with these activities, or to join those of us who annually engage in direct protect and rescue actions at the actual reserves, will be very welcome.

MAIN IMAGE: Kangaroo family, iStock.

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