Kangaroos are a sacred animal in the Aboriginal dreaming and laws and should not be culled according to senior Indigenous elder Max Dulumunmun Harrison and adviser to the University of Technology, Sydney think tank on Kangaroos – THINKK.
His concerns over the growing slaughter of kangaroos – totalling more than three million adult kangaroos and one million joeys each year are echoed in the findings of two reports released today examining the harvest of kangaroos for human and pet consumption.
The kangaroo harvest in Australia is the largest commercial kill of terrestrial wildlife on Earth.
"A lot of them end up as pet food and the cruelty these shooters are causing to joeys makes me shudder," Mr Harrison said."They call it culling and harvesting but what’s going on is a slaughter."
Established six months ago as part of the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, THINKK has now launched two reports - Shooting our wildlife: An analysis of the law and policy governing the killing of kangaroos and Advocating kangaroo meat: Towards ecological benefit or plunder?
According to lead researchers Dr Dror Ben-Ami and Keely Boom, THINKK's research is filling a yawning gap in accurate information relating to the health and wellbeing of kangaroo populations being harvested for meat or culled for so-called environmental reasons.
"THINKK’s first step is to address current ecological and environmental misconceptions about kangaroos and to rigorously review the history and policies that shape the kangaroo industry," Dr Ben-Ami said.
"Emerging science does not support that kangaroos are over-abundant pests competing with livestock for resources and there is no evidence of sheep replacement occurring over the past 20 years. Eating and placing a commercial value on kangaroos will not save the Australian environment, but does create conservation and animal welfare concerns."
Keely Boom said it was time a review of legislation governing the harvest and culling of kangaroos was undertaken by governments to bring consistency nationwide, end unnecessary killing of pouch young, and to better monitor potentially dwindling populations in some areas.
"Our research and investigations by other bodies such as the RSPCA is suggesting that there may more effective, less cruel, and sustainable ways to manage kangaroo populations than those that currently exist," Ms Boom said.
Mr Harrison said he was pleased THINKK was mindful of indigenous perspectives and knowledge to better understand and manage kangaroos and is happy to share knowledge on the significance these animals have in Indigenous culture.
"One of the things that concern me is that this killing is disturbing energy lines," he said. "The kangaroos’ soft feet activate the land when they jump along it and this is so important. The killing is being done without respect for the kangaroos and Aboriginal dreaming.”
The two research reports produced by THINKK can be accessed at http://thinkkangaroos.uts.edu.au/publications