Category Archives: commercial kangaroo industry

Australians unaware of the true and cruel nature of the commercial kangaroo killing industry

Kangaroos-Myths and Realities was written to create awareness about the plight of kangaroos and their joeys because narrow media ownership has played a significant role in ensuring that Australians are kept UNAWARE of the true nature of the slaughter.


An unchallenged coalition of scientists have been allowed to turn a protected species into meat and hides.

This group of self-serving scientists, regulators and industry lobbyists combine to create an industry that artificially manipulates kangaroo populations to breed next years’ crop, defying natural selection, calling it a ‘sustainable’ harvest, and leaving kangaroo populations a teetering pyramid.

Prof Gordon Grigg from the University of Queensland says kangaroos are undervalued as a ‘harvestable resource’ and killing them for profit is the panacea to farmers’ woes and ills. Grigg, with former student Dr Tony Pople, also from the University of Queensland wrote the “Commercial Harvesting of Kangaroos in Australia“ in 1992 which is the foundation of Environment Australia’s policy. It was revised in 1995 and again in 1999. Together Grigg and Pople shaped scientific policy towards management of kangaroos in Australia with the following premise:
“To harvest a sustained yield from a population at steady density, it first must be manipulated in some way to promote the rate of increase. Rates of harvest may be raised to levels at which they can cause the extinction of the population.
Arguments will be confounded when there are non-consumptive values attached to the resource such as for tourism.”

These scientists saw that is was in their interests to support and promote the kangaroo industry to gain consultancies and funding from the government.

They ignore and reject the non-consumptive use, and intrinsic value of kangaroos because their arguments are confounded when there are non-consumptive values attached to their resource such as tourism.

This total disregard for important stakeholders such as the $6 billion dollar nature-based tourism industry, and breaches of ecological and scientific oversight are indeed very serious.

We seek an end to the brutality to kangaroos and to their joeys. Millions of young-at-foot joeys have been abandoned to a cruel fate over past decade for which a flawed and deficient Code of Practice provides no protection, whatsoever.

Ingrid Witte writes “ In all other civilised societies, female mammals accompanied by dependent young cannot be shot. Only in Australia do we allow that to happen.”

We ask you in the MEDIA for your help to turn from brutality to a mega billion dollar source of income from tourism, to provide unlimited benefits from our magnificent unique wildlife, to rural Australia.

They say there is nothing like an idea whose time has come and we believe the time is NOW for Australia to EMBRACE the kangaroo as its enduring, proud and strong symbol ~ The time is NOW for all Australians to join the rest of the world and start to appreciate what we have in our own backyard.

We hope that you will read Kangaroos Myths and Realities.
Thank you.

Maryland Wilson

Australian Wildlife Protection Council
level 3, 247 Flinders Lane Melbourne Victoria

Buy Kangaroos Myths and Realities online

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Canberra accused of dirty tricks in California

Australia’s ambassador to the US Kim Beazley said in a statement that Australia-California kangaroo trade “is conducted according to science-based wildlife management practices…”

The harvest of kangaroos, for skin and meat in Australia is the largest commercial slaughter of terrestrial wildlife on earth, killing some three million adult kangaroos each year, and up to one million dependent young, (in pouch and out of pouch) brutally dispatched or allowed to slowly die.

The science is based on the underlying assumption that kangaroos are environmental pests, and over-abundant. However, there’s little emerging science to support these views, in open landscapes, or that they competitive with livestock for resources – except in extreme drought situations. Kangaroos are natural grassland managers, having evolved over 40 million years.

Huge wild animal populations, such as bison and the passenger pigeon, were destroyed by commercial harvesting in America.

The Australian native graces the country’s coat of arms and is a major tourism draw, making it a high profile target for animal rights activists who oppose commercial killing.

The harvest of kangaroos undermines the process of Darwin’s natural selection. The larger animals are always targeted as they provide more meat and skin. Already Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinctions.

Australia’s Department of Agriculture confirmed it provided AUS$143,000 to the Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia to help pay U.S. law firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips to lobby Californian lawmakers against the ban. It means that Australia may have acted illegally because it did not declare financial payments or register as a lobbyist employer.

Kim Beazley’s promotion of the trade in kangaroo parts has nothing to do with science, or sustainability, but about promoting an export purely for money!

Kim Beazley, has warned of painful economic consequences for Australia and California should a ban on the sale of kangaroo parts in America’s largest state economy not be overturned. So fragile is our ailing economy, that body part of kangaroos are vital for the $5.5 billion trade with California, and “we” have helped them fight wildfires – so they are obliged to accept the slaughter of kangaroos?

Petitions and action:

Don’t Lift Ban on Kangaroo Products in California!

Animals Australia, ban kangaroo exports

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Celebrities and Scientists lobby to reinstate Californian ban on kangaroo products

Media Release 24 August 2015

JM Coetzee (Nobel Prize Laureate) and Dr Brian May (astrophysicist and Queen guitarist) join 72 other scientists, academics and public figures urging California to reinstate its ban on imported kangaroo products.

Over 70 scientists, academics, educators and other public figures from Australia, the UK and the United States, including Nobel Prize Laureate JM Coetzee and astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Dr Brian May, have signed an open letter to Californian lawmakers urging reinstatement of the Californian ban on imported products made from kangaroos.

California banned importation of kangaroo products when the United States listed the commercially shot kangaroo species as threatened in 1974. This followed Australia’s own 1973 ban on exported kangaroo products, based on evidence of serious decline in kangaroos.

The US delisted the species in 1995 and California’s import ban temporarily lifted in 2007 after intensive lobbying by the commercial kangaroo industry, Adidas and the Australian Government.

“California’s import ban is due to resume at the end of 2015. The industry is seeking permanent unchecked importation of kangaroo products,” said letter coordinators Helen Bergen and Teja Brooks Pribac.

“Kangaroos grow and breed slowly with high juvenile mortality, and suffer major declines during drought. Intense hunting and systematic eradication programs since British settlement in 1788, and decades of industrial-scale commercial killing beyond reproductive capacity has seen local extinctions of populations.

“Australian government policy favours the commercial industry, despite growing concerns about the science used to justify the commercial kangaroo shooting and export industries.

“Population estimates over-inflate numbers from which unattainable inflated shooting quotas are extracted. This reinforces the myth of kangaroos as abundant and as pests, despite current science indicating otherwise.

“ There is also increasing concern about the known cruelty issues for shot kangaroos and their joeys; and about the risk of pathogens that continue to be found in kangaroo meat,” said scientist Dr Dror Ben-Ami.

“Supporters of the commercial kangaroo industry are quick to deride these concerns, however signatories to the letter are educated and critical-thinking people, who well understand the seriousness of the questions being asked,” added Mses Bergen and Pribac.

“Government custodianship of wildlife should never be driven by commercial interests or mistaken common perceptions. It’s like leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse,” they said.


“We are urging Californian lawmakers to carefully consider the concerns in the letter and not take their advice from the very industry profiting from the massive harm visited on Australia’s kangaroos every night.

Read or download the letter at

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Drought, land clearing in Queensland

(featured image: Queensland_State_Archives – land clearing Beerburrum_December 1916)

When we think about global deforestation, certain hotspots spring to mind. The Amazon. The Congo. Borneo and Sumatra. And… eastern Australia?

Yes, eastern Australia is one of 11 regions highlighted in a new chapter of the WWF Living Forests report, Saving forests at risk, which identifies the world’s greatest deforestation fronts – where forests are most at risk – between now and 2030.

The WWF Living Forests report, Saving forests at risk”, identifies the world’s greatest deforestation fronts – where forests are most at risk – between now and 2030. It estimates forest losses for eastern Australia range from 3 million to 6 million hectares, including over a million hectares of Queensland’s native vegetation. Report co-author Martin Taylor says a relaxation in land clearing regulations in NSW and Queensland could trigger a resurgence in large-scale forest clearing, mainly for livestock.

Australia is an internationally renowned biological treasure, one of 17 ‘megadiverse’ countries. Our national responsibility for maintaining the planet’s biological diversity is even greater by virtue of the uniqueness of many of our species.

Queensland needs to reinstate strong controls on broadscale land clearing, including regrowing native vegetation. The weakening of broadscale land clearing regulations has already allowed instances of substantial clearing, and this will increase in scale and frequency over time.

“Queensland has been the site of more than three quarters of Australia’s land clearing in recent decades. … From 1988 to 2009, an average of 410,000 ha was cleared per year in Queensland. Less than 2% of trees cut in this period were used for timber and 93% of the clearing was to establish pasture for livestock grazing. “Feedlots in the southern Queensland grain growing region are the greatest single consumer of feed, followed by Victorian dairy farms and NSW feedlots.” (BZE Zero Carbon Australia Land Use report p30)

Dryland salinity
has affected large areas cleared of native vegetation, and the salinity impacts of recent large-scale clearing in central Queensland have yet to be realised. Less than 10% of the original vegetation remains in some parts of southern Australia and south-east Queensland. The greatest conservation success in recent times has been the slowing of land clearing, particularly of broad-scale clearing in Queensland.

The drought in central west Queensland has left “skin and bone” kangaroos starving to death and too weak to move, residents say. The commercial kangaroo meat industry figures and Queensland senator Barry O’Sullivan both claim kangaroo numbers are out of control, despite population estimates that may suggest otherwise. The data suggests the kangaroo population in regional Queensland dropped from 26.3 million in 2013 to 22.5 million in 2014, a decrease of close to 15 per cent. There are new markets to China and Peru. No doubt this cruel industry won’t stop until they are threatened!

Despite the recent rains and coastal flooding, more than 80 per cent of Queensland remains officially drought declared. Queensland agricultural lobby groups have criticised the Labor Party over its plan to reinstate its former land clearing laws. Producers prefer to accept the inevitability of drought than to draw the dots between heavy land clearing and drought! Record numbers of Queensland cattle are going to slaughter as the drought continues to bite hard in the Sunshine State, so it’s growing- business as usual!

The Queensland Government is under pressure to stop the bulldozing of tens of thousands of hectares of bushland on Cape York, a move approved in the dying days of the previous Liberal National Party government.
(image: Recent increases in land clearing threaten Queensland’s biodiversity

The rate of large scale land clearing in Queensland is about to go off the scale unless the Palaszczuk government delivers on its pre-election promise to reinstate strong controls on large scale clearing. The warning from The Wilderness Society follows media reports in May 2015 revealing that clearing has just commenced on 32,000 hectares of World Heritage quality woodland at Olive Vale on Cape York Peninsula.

“The Olive Vale clearing is … the largest single permit that we’re aware of being granted for high value agriculture,” said Tim Seeling of the Wilderness Society. Conservationists argue that Olive Vale, which is on the Laura River 90 kilometres west of Cooktown, is home to 17 listed threatened species and a nationally important wetland, including the Gouldian Finch!

Land clearing is the main cause of biodiversity loss.
It also exacerbates erosion and salinity, reduces water quality, worsens the impacts of drought, and contributes significantly to carbon emissions. Indeed, vegetation protection laws enabled Australia to meet its Kyoto Protocol target for emissions reductions.

For yellow-bellied gliders and other species dependent on large tree hollows, it doesn’t matter how much money is spent if hollows continue to vanish from the landscape as a result of land clearing.

(image: yellow-bellied glider from web page

The most pronounced declines in koalas are in southeast Queensland, where urban development has destroyed and fragmented large areas of high quality Koala habitat, with resulting increases in mortality from vehicle collisions, dog attacks and disease. In the past 20 years, there have been substantial population declines in southwest Queensland and central Queensland due to drought, heatwaves, urbanization and land clearing.

It’s 25 years since prime minister Bob Hawke promised to plant a billion trees across Australia, the first of many ambitious schemes to reverse the destructive toll of broad-scale clearing by farmers. In 1995, Queensland premier Wayne Goss announced a plan to preserve 90 per cent of his state’s remnant native vegetation. Hawke’s billion trees were never planted and Keating and Goss were thrown out of office before they could fulfil their promises.

The re-acceleration of land clearing in Queensland puts the state on the world stage – and not in a good way. We are still in a Colonial mind-frame of desperate clearing of “messy” native vegetation, and environmental destruction, all for the economic model of production, profits and feeding an expanding number of mouths!

It’s time to stop the razing of our landscape for short-term profits, at the expense of the long-term impacts of destruction.


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Sheila Newman: Sociologist and demographer

The literature indicates an understanding among scientists researching in the industry, that these animals are artificially kept by hunting at greater numbers than they would be naturally, in order to both to offset the impact of commercial hunting and to keep it going. The numbers are being manipulated upwards, then the alleged spontaneous overcrowding1 is being used to justify arguments for the need for a commercial industry and damage mitigation culling.2 If the calculations of the program of artificial ‘management’ of kangaroo populations are correct in estimating kangaroo populations too numerous, then the management amounts to a form of farming, which is preventing kangaroos from exercising normal patterns of social organisation that would limit fertility opportunities.

Caughley (1976, 1977) outlined the principles of wildlife harvesting. To harvest a sustained yield from a population at steady density, it must first be manipulated in some way to promote its rate of increase (e.g. reduce it below its ecological carrying capacity or supplement its resources). The second of the four theoretical principles he identified was that: “Harvesting theory rests upon populations being regulated by some combination of density-dependent reproduction and mortality. This has been described well for a number of large mammals (Fowler 1987). Harvest mortality is seen as being compensated to some extent by lowered natural mortality rates and increased fecundity rates.” (Caughley (1976, 1977) cited by Tony Pople and Gordon Grigg, “Commercial harvesting of Kangaroos in Australia,” Department of Zoology, The University of Queensland, for Environment Australia, August 1999, p.5).

Even as a pest, however, kangaroos are still a resource, and they can only be that while they remain numerous, a necessity which puts an economic value on their conservation.” (Tony Pople and Gordon Grigg , Commercial harvesting of Kangaroos in Australia, Department of Zoology, The University of Queensland, for Environment Australia, August 1999, pp.38-39)

If my impression is correct, that kangaroo numbers are being manipulated upwards by commercial management practices, then my observations on how these numbers painlessly reduce themselves is more likely to serve the kangaroo conservation and tourism concerns. According to predator-prey theory, predators adapt to prey numbers. Would the kangaroo harvesting industry consider this adaptation, rather than continuing to farm? Like so many industries, it seems to want more growth, so more kangaroos and more territory: The South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan 2018-2022 indicates a desire to increase the commercial kangaroo meat catchment area by formally extending it3 and by getting more farmers to work for it by shooting kangaroos on their property, through a DEWNR regional staff program.4


The population model and assumptions in the South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan 2018-2022 seem to have a number of theoretical flaws and biases, some of which at least have been pointed out in recent research.

– There seems to be an underlying assumption in the population model used (exclusively predator/prey biomass dependent)5 that all the kangaroo species under consideration breed to the maximum (W.D. Hamilton (1964)) unless prevented from doing so by natural catastrophe, big predators and human culls for commercial or other reasons. Whilst Hamilton’s rules for inclusive fitness and Dawkins’ theory on selfish genes are very important, they should not cause a failure to investigate countervailing forces to genes seeking maximum reproduction.

Demographic brakes

Countervailing forces to reproductive urges exist in the subtleties of endogamy (breeding within a local population) and exogamy (incest avoidance)6 which also limit fertility opportunities, including, in some species, sexual maturation.7 For instance, young male kangaroos need to leave their natal group because there is only room for one dominant male breeder and he monopolises all the females unless another mature male successfully challenges him. The dispersing young male may not find a group that has available females or he may fail to successfully compete for them. Aspects of cooperative breeding may be present8 and delay sexual maturation in both males and females. This would explain some variations in breeding ages in different populations and environmental circumstances.9 These should limit fertility opportunities in a natural ecology, i.e. one not impacted by the commercial management considerations noted above.

My own theory is that undisturbed local populations respond to environmental cues like rainfall and soil richness by a variation in genetic algorithms for fertility. Sexual maturation and pairing is limited by the availability of territory. In humans these algorithms translate into kinship and marriage rules that vary in degree according to rainfall and other environmental cues.10


Demographic accelerators

But we have abundant examples demonstrating that, because of hunting and culling, more fertility opportunities are being created for younger, smaller animals.

Commercial harvesting may affect the demography (e.g. size, growth, distribution and birth and death rates) of harvested kangaroo populations by selecting the larger kangaroos, which tend to be the older males (Allendorf et al. 2008). Commercially harvested populations may have a lower average age compared to that of unharvested populations. The average size of kangaroos in harvested populations may be lower, and populations contain a higher proportion of young animals than unharvested populations, but these differences are lessened during drought when older animals are lost from unharvested populations (Pople 1996).The sex bias (i.e. the percentage of harvested kangaroos that are male) has increased from 60-70% male to 92-97% male for red and western grey kangaroos (DEWNR 2017). The increase in sex-bias is due, in part, to some meat processing plants only accepting male carcasses. The sex bias of the euro harvest has historically been higher due to the small size of female euros, but the sex-bias has also increased from 75-95% male to 99% male (DEWNR 2017).” (South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan 2018-2022, p.25.)

Massive bias for shooting large males leaves remaining, smaller males, without the suppression of sexual maturation (possibly) or sexual behaviour (definitely) that those large competitive mature males would have caused. The remaining smaller males do not need to disperse from their natal group to breed. The natal groups may be so fragmented that most adult relatives have disappeared and the remaining young does and bucks may lack the normal incest avoidance due to disturbance of Westermarck relationships. It is also possible that the presence of mature related males and females may delay sexual maturity or behaviour in female kangaroos, so that loss of big males and females would then also favour early breeding in young does.

And the industry knows this:

To harvest a sustained yield from a population at steady density, it must first be manipulated in some way to promote its rate of increase (e.g. reduce it below its ecological carrying capacity or supplement its resources).” (Caughley (1976, 1977) cited by Tony Pople and Gordon Grigg (1999))11

If there were really a desire to achieve smaller kangaroo populations naturally, then a number of things could be tried. Assuming that the disorganisation caused by hunting and culling is responsible for managing the population numbers upwards, we might create reliably safe areas and corridors local to various kangaroo clans in the harvesting area so that they could adapt to protect dependent young and females, encouraging the Westermarck effect, normalisation of patterns of incest avoidance and dispersal, weight, rate of maturity, sexual competition and fertility response to environment. If this succeeded it would reduce both the perceived need and the opportunity for the commercial industry as well as damaging the kangaroo’s reputation for overpopulation. These refugia could also provide a safe and permanent environment away from the massive human population expansion and landscape transformation which also uproots, scatters and kills kangaroos.

More demographic Brakes: Sexual Segregation/Gender pathways

Some other variations in population organisation can affect fertility opportunities. Examples include separate gender pathways, with ‘sexual segregation’ where male and female populations live apart.

Sexual segregation is a phenomenon seen in many species, with segregation occurring along behavioural or ecological dimensions. Sexual segregation in western grey and red kangaroos in semi – arid Victoria has been the subject of intensive investigations since the last review.

[…] MacFarlane and Coulson (2005) investigated the effects of mating activity, group […] composition, spatial distribution and habitat selection on sexual segregation in western grey and red kangaroos. The synchrony and timing of mating activity was seen to influence the magnitude and timing of social segregation in these species, with mixed sex groups predominating during the breeding season. …

Spatial segregation and habitat segregation were also seen. Although the magnitude of these types of segregation were weaker, they were both still significantly influenced by synchrony and timing of breeding.

Coulson et al. (2006) discussed sexual segregation at three levels (habitat, social and dietary) and confirmed that both size and sex influence segregation.

MacFarlane and Coulson (2009) showed that the need for males to maintain contact with other males (perhaps to develop important fighting skills, evaluate rivals and establish a dominance hierarchy) might also promote sexual segregation.

Similarly Nave (2002) reported evidence of sexual segregation in eastern grey kangaroos in Victoria.” (Review of Scientific Literature Relevant to the Commercial Harvest Management of Kangaroos

What are the consequences of loss of sex-specific territory?

Years ago, Glen Marshall, who was a teacher and missionary in PNG between 1960 and 197412 told me that fertility shot up when churches convinced men and women to cohabit, where previously they had separate land and houses. I was later able to study this concept in detail and wrote a book about how Pacific Islander land-tenure and inheritance traditions kept populations within the limits of small islands.13

What effect could reduction of habitat, forced cohabitation, forcibly changed migration routes and wiped out populations have on male/female kangaroo territory and consequently on fertility opportunities?

How do we know that the female bias (recorded by Fletcher, 2006) at Tinbinburra, for instance, is not due to that area being female territory?

Female elder kangaroos

Daughters seem to learn from their mothers to look after joeys. Where female kangaroos are early orphaned their parenting skill may increase risks in joey upbringing. The extraordinary rates of joey mortality may have something to do with this. (See Faces in the Mob for a study of success and failure in raising joeys in one mob.)

How far do kangaroos migrate?

Another aspect of population theory is migration. The range of kangaroo movement is probably greatly underestimated in calculations that do not take more recent MT DNA studies into consideration, such as Zenger et al DNA study 2003.14 Zenga et al look at Eastern kangaroo populations, but I note that South Australia uses the NSW model anyway.15 Seeing as the South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management plan encourages research, I would suggest it undertake MT DNA studies similar to Zenger et al’s for South Australian populations. Underestimation of real geographical range risks skewing the estimation of population numbers by confusing seasonal or reactive population movement with permanent populations: Pople et al (2007)16 acknowledged that temporal and spatial kangaroo population movement had been ignored in the models and it does not seem to be taken into consideration in the South Australian Management Plan yet. Pople et al did not, however, consider the discrete dynamics within local populations and their interactions with other populations within the overall area. They were looking at a commercial hunting model seeking to predict when and where populations would be grouped together and easier to harvest economically.

Effectively the counting method and population model in the South Australian Management plan seems to assume an undifferentiated ‘metapopulation’ and to ignore the local populations that actually make up that metapopulation and which have their own local characteristics of endogamy, exogamy, dispersal and philopatrie) within that metapopulation.

A metapopulation is a population of populations (Hanski & Gilpin 1991). Wright (1940) laid the groundwork for a genetic theory of metapopulations, while Andrewartha & Birch (1954, Ch.14) did the same for metapopulation dynamics: ‘A natural population occupying any considerable area will be made up of a number of local populations or colonies. In different localities the trend may be going in different directions at the same time.’ They emphasized the influence of dispersal on the number of patches occupied at any given time.” (Caughley, Directions in Conservation Biology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Vol. 63, No. 2 (Apr., 1994), pp. 215-244, p. 221)


Goal: […] to provide an alternative management option for reducing the damage to land condition caused byoverabundant kangaroos. (The South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan 2018-2022, p.4.)

The South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan 2018-2022 seems to rely, as mentioned above, on a predator/prey, biomass dependent population theory, and to cite a small group of scientists who have apparently confirmed this theory time and again, describing how kangaroos wear down grasslands and then starve to death. One scientist not cited is ACT Ecologist Donald Fletcher, whose extensive field research failed to confirm the theory. The ACT Kangaroo Management model relies on the same literature as the South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan, and is one of high fertility sedentary populations that rarely migrate, grazing grasslands down to the subsoil. But, in his 2006 thesis, p. 237, Senior ACT Kangaroo management ecologist, Donald Fletcher, tested this model and found, to his surprise, that,

“The study did not provide evidence that high densities of kangaroos reduce groundcover to the levels where erosion can accelerate.

Unmanaged kangaroo populations did not necessarily result in low levels of ground cover. Groundcover had a positive but not significant relationship to kangaroo density, with the highest cover at the wettest site where kangaroo density was highest. Weather has an important influence on groundcover.”

“The results from the study as a whole indicate that unmanaged kangaroo populations did not necessarily result in unacceptably low levels of ground cover.” (Fletcher Phd: p.231.)

1 “Harvesting will invariably involve some injuries and protracted deaths. However, this must be weighed up against compensatory mortality, reduction in other forms of killing when an animal changes status from a pest to a resource, the quality of life for individuals in dense, unharvested populations during droughts and alternative land uses if harvesting is not allowed.” Tony Pople and Gordon Grigg,“Commercial harvesting of Kangaroos in Australia,” Department of Zoology, The University of Queensland, for Environment Australia, August 1999, p.2).

2Australia’s problem with abundant kangaroo species

Australia has about 50 species of marsupial mammals of the Super-family Macropodoidea. Most of them have declined in the 210 or so years since Europeans settled here, some to extinction. Some, however, have thrived to the extent that they are now among the most abundant large mammals anywhere. The abundant species, particularly the three largest species of kangaroo, are so numerous in many rural areas that they are regarded as pests, in competition with sheep and cattle for pasture which, in a dry country like Australia, is always in short supply.

The abundance of kangaroos, with their high conservation status, and the recognition that they are regarded as a serious pest by graziers gives Australian conservation agencies a problem. Not surprisingly, all Australian macropods are protected by law, as is almost all Australian wildlife. The solution to this conflict has been to issue limited permits which allow kangaroos and some of the most numerous wallabies to be shot as pests. However, most of the control is effected through permitting a regulated commercial harvest of kangaroos and wallabies for meat and for leather.

Any commercial harvest or pest destruction of wildlife is likely to be controversial, especially if the subjects are as appealing and as well known as Australia’s kangaroos. That kangaroos are the most readily identified symbol of Australia, and that they are harvested by shooting, only exacerbates the concern, and it is not uncommon for there to be organised public campaigns against their commercial use. […]

[…] The individual aims of the Management Programs differ a little between the different States but, in general, all identify the need to balance land-use requirements against the necessity to ensure continuation of self perpetuating kangaroo populations of all species. Tony Pople and Gordon Grigg,“Commercial harvesting of Kangaroos in Australia,” Department of Zoology, The University of Queensland, for Environment Australia, August 1999, p.2).

3 However, within the life of this plan, new Commercial Harvest Sub-Regions may be opened, on the basis of population surveys, in areas of South Australia where commercial harvesting of kangaroos is not currently occurring. The Commonwealth Government will be advised of the quotas annually through the Quota Report before implementation.” South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan 2018-2022, p.10

4 Action 8: Educate DEWNR regional staff and land managers on best practice for combining the use of commercial and non-commercial techniques for kangaroo management.

Performance indicators:

8.1 Develop decision-making tools to assist regional staff in providing advice to land managers on commercial vs.non-commercial kangaroo management.

8.2 Any landholder seeking a destruction permit for more than a specified number of kangaroos (determined seasonally) within a CHMR is asked to consider using the commercial harvest option in the first instance. In such circumstances, Permits to Destroy Wildlife (Kangaroos) are only offered after the commercial harvest option has been declined.

8.3 Investigate the introduction of formal training requirements (like those undertaken by Kangaroo Field Processors) for landholders requesting a non-commercial Permit to Destroy Wildlife (Kangaroos).

8.4 Investigate alternative ways to integrate commercial and non-commercial kangaroo management options to mitigate damage to land condition.” (South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan 2018-2022, p.8.)

5 Simplification of population dynamics in pasture biomass model: “Briefly, changes in kangaroo numbers are modelled as a function of pasture biomass which, in turn, is determined by recent rainfall, past pasture biomass and the density of kangaroos (and livestock) consuming the pasture. Harvesting obviously reduces kangaroo numbers, but the reduced density results in higher pasture biomass and therefore higher rates of increase of kangaroos. This improvement in environmental conditions for a population, which without harvesting has no long-term trend, is a basic requirement for the sustainability of a harvest. The population can be simulated 10,000 times over a 20 year period. Each run is different as, every three months, rainfall is drawn from a probability distribution using the average and standard deviation for rainfall in western NSW and thus reflects the uncertain food supply in this arid environment. Population size is also estimated with uncertainty by aerial surveys, and so this too was drawn from a probability distribution using the average and standard deviation associated with aerial surveys (Pople 2008). The population was harvested at an annual rate of 15 percent or less if it was below a particular threshold.” (Source: Appendix 3, pp31-32, South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan 2018-2022.)

6 [Inbreeding is ]a lesser problem in natural populations because mating between close relatives is uncommon and individuals often actively avoid mating with close relatives (Ralls, Harvey & Lyles 1986). Caughley, Directions in Conservation, Journal of animal ecology, 1994 Vol: 63 Issue: 2 Page: 215 -2441994, pp220-221. Sheila Newman, Demography, Territory, Law: The rules of animal and human populations, Countershock Press, 2013.

7 See introduction and most chapters in Nancy G. Solomon and Jeffrey A. French, Cooperative Breeding in mammals, Cambridge University Press, 1997. See “Chapter 4: Towards a new social theory on population density and geometric patterning” in Sheila Newman, Demography, Territory, Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, 2013, (,, and Sheila Newman, The Urge to Disperse, Candobetter Press, 2012. (


9 Kangaroos at risk gives examples of variations in breeding age in different populations.–population-ecology.html

10 “Chapter 4: Towards a new social theory on population density and geometric patterning” in Sheila Newman, Demography, Territory, Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, 2013, (,, and Sheila Newman, The Urge to Disperse, Candobetter Press, 2012. (

11 (Caughley (1976, 1977) cited by Tony Pople and Gordon Grigg, “Commercial harvesting of Kangaroos in Australia,” Department of Zoology, The University of Queensland, for Environment Australia, August 1999, p.5).

12 Sheila Newman, “Suppression of matriarchal societies and population stability in Papua New Guinea 1960-1974,” Interview with Glen Marshall, Although this may seem an anecdotal sort of interview, separate men’s and women’s land in Micronesia, even today, and elsewhere, is a well-established fact in anthropology.

13 Sheila Newman, Demography Territory Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, 2013. This also explores the Easter Island population crash narrative.

14 Zenger et al DNA study 2003: (Heredity (2003) 91, 153–162. doi:10.1038/sj.hdy.6800293, K R Zenger, M D B Eldridge and D W Cooper, “Intraspecific variation, sex-biased dispersal and phylogeography of the eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus).”

15 South Australia has adopted the harvest thresholds method used in New South Wales and described in the New South Wales Commercial Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan 2017-2022. The following explanation on harvest threshold setting by SR McLeod and AR Pople (2011), is taken from the NSW Commercial Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan.” (Appendix 3: Setting and applying harvest Thresholds, South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan 2018-2022, p.28.)

16 Whether the goal is conservation, sustainable use or pest control, wildlife management ideally requires regularly updated information on a population’s size and distribution. Most frequently, population size is estimated from sample counts throughout a study area, but the pattern of distribution is either ignored or considered subjectively. Typically, management actions such as setting appropriate seasonal harvest limits or culling are triggered by estimates of the total population without sufficient regard to its spatial and temporal distribution. This means that management actions may be focused inappropriately, leading to wastage of money and outcomes that may be seriously suboptimal. Management actions would benefit from readily available and up-to-date information about the distribution of wildlife populations within a region, as well as the total population size. To do this, point-based sampling data need to be translated to density surfaces. Density surfaces modelled using geostatistics or habitat models have been produced from ground and airborne surveys of marine (e.g. Augustin et al. 1998; Rivoirard et al. 2000) and terrestrial (e.g. Campbell & Borner 1995; Rempel & Kushneriuk 2003) wildlife populations. However, few, if any, studies have modelled wildlife density over a large spatial and temporal extent, thereby providing local estimates of population size to inform more focused management actions.” (Pople, Phinn, Menke, Grigg, Possingham, McAlpine, “Spatial patterns of kangaroo density across the South Australian pastoral zone over 26 years: aggregation during drought and suggestions of long distance movement,” Journal of Applied Ecology 2007 44, 1068–1079)

(featured image: Animals Australia)

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Kangaroo culling trial: call for extension

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has called on the state government to extend a kangaroo culling trial to West Wimmera Shire.

The government introduced a two-year trial to cull kangaroos for pet food in 2014.

A State Government trial involving Ararat, Horsham, Northern Grampians, Yarriambiack, Southern Grampians and Pyrenees local government areas is due to conclude in June.

Ms Kealy wants to see the program introduced permanently or the trial extended to include West Wimmera Shire. “It’s created 12 jobs at the Hamilton abattoirs, where they are processing the meat for pet food,” she said.

Ms Kealy wants to make it permanently open season.  “Culling” should be for old, or sick, animals.  This would not be a “cull”, but be a slaughter.  It would be all out war against our Australian animal icon.

The trial had only occurred in areas where kangaroos were in plague proportions.   Since the start of these trials the number of permits has increased dramatically, from 30,000 per year, to 70,000 and now 100,000, probably in an effort to justify the slaughter.
Ms Kealy said while there were environmental concerns about the issue, the trial had only occurred in areas where kangaroos were in “plague proportions”.

To soften her killing plans, Ms Kealy said shooters were trained to kill kangaroos with a single shot to the head to make the process as humane as possible.  That’s almost impossible, due to the size of the head, and the accuracy needed!


(image: Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Macropus giganteus, in the wild. Taken in Swifts Creek, Victoria in December 2007)

AWPC member,

angaroos are not in plague proportions but their populations are self-regulating. They are not “the environment” to be “managed” but native, sentient beings who have the right to live in their native homeland. It is humans who are spreading into the habitats of native species.  Australia has the worst record in the world when it comes to species extinctions and it is the result of genocide against indigenous peoples. Since I did not wish to be part of such a country, having emigrated to Victoria, Australia with my parents in 1970, I returned to my country of origin, Croatia, in 1992 and encourage others to do the same. I never saw a kangaroo in the wild even though I travelled a lot and did some farm work, picking potatoes and peas.

POLL: Should kangaroos be culled in the Wimmera for pet food?





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