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Kangaroos - When is it the right number?

Date: 16 May 2008 :: By: V Stebbins

It's been of interest to me over many years when we talk about 'culling' our wildlife the thing that we hear most often is 'oh but there's lots and they need to be culled'... so my question is when is it the 'right' number?

Kangaroos and other macropods have been an intrinsic part of our country and were represented in the millions, our kangaroos ranged over kilometres each day and their average lifespan of 25 years, meant they grew to large sizes.

Today the biggest and best are culled, they're a much easier target and last year (2007) 3.5 million kangaroos were culled (lets call it what it is 'killed') in Australia. The species covered red kangaroo, eastern and western grey kangaroo and wallaroos.

Adidas use the kangaroo skin for their products and over the last years are disappointed that the size of the skins are reducing, could it be that the average size and age is being killed out of our kangaroo population?

How many does the species need to remain alive and not die out as other culled animals have done. The Tasmanian Tiger was killed by government bounty and eventually there weren't enough to sustain it as a species and they are now extinct. Do we want to see this happen to our kangaroos?

Australia has a human population of approx 22 million what would happen if this was reduced to say 100, would we be able to sustain a population with such a small gene pool? Why then do we consider millions of kangaroos and other species of Australian wildlife as too many?

In the government from 2003 Commercial Kangaroo harvest quota documents, it says 'in 2001 the estimated population of these species was 57 million animals. This estimate only includes the harvested areas of Australia...'

And in another publication in the same year (2003 Population estimates for kangaroos within the commercial harvest areas) 'In 2003 the total estimated numbers in the harvested areas for red,western grey,eastern grey and wallaroo/euro was 28 million.'

In the 2006 Population estimates for kangaroos within the commercial harvest areas it's stated
'In 2006 the population estimates for kangaroos within the commercial harvest areas for the same species was 23 million.'

This shows the numbers overall in 'harvest areas' (see map of harvest area for NSW only) are declining rapidly so in 2001 we had estimated 57 million kangaroos and in 2006 23 million kangaroos.

We need to start asking ourselves if we want to see kangaroos and wildlife in the future of this country and if we do we need to stand up and allow our voice to be heard and when people say there's too many the question must be asked 'then how many do you want'?

We don't know how many need to be killed before it's a downhill spiral of no return and some experts are now saying that the gene pool is so reduced and with the killing of the best and biggest the future does not look good for our kangaroos if we continue along the road of 'culling'.

We've all been outraged by the whale harvest and the annual seal harvest, let's give as much outrage to our beautiful kangaroos.

Some interesting facts about kangaroos:

  • The hug and cuddle each other and their babies
  • They don't make the clicking noise like 'Skippy'
  • They do make a coughing sound when frightened or stressed
  • Their meat is not tender unless eaten almost raw at which time it maybe be infected with toxoplasmosis
  • They are not 'farmed' nor can they be due to the nature of the animal
  • They are not killed humanely – they are spot lighted, shot and more times than this writer cares to think about they are hung and skinned alive
  • Their babies (joeys) are often 'whacked' against a tree or have their heads stomped on to kill them
  • They need us to protect them and stand up for them!We now need to watch as see what eventuates and if the me comes and all your asked to do is sign an online petition, please think of the animals and sign.


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