No Comments

It’s funny how certain taboos about what animals can eaten emerge. We used to think eating whale was okay, now we don’t. But Norwegians still do. Japanese are horrified that in NZ, people eat lamb. For a while, we thought eating raw fish was strange.

One of the constant struggles we face managing wildlife, is the strange dichotomy people have between animals that can be eaten and those that can’t. Eating native fish in NZ is okay, eating native insects (huhu grubs) is okay, eating some native birds is not okay. (A limited harvest of pukekos is permitted each year in NZ, and in theory they can be eaten). At an ecological level, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Always with the boxes.

This leads onto kangaroos. Kangaroos are harvested annually in large numbers in Australia. And there have been a number of campaigns in overseas markets to kill this trade off. California for instance, banned all kangaroo products for decades. And the EU is often subject to pressure to ban the kangaroo trade.

Human populations need a supply of protein. Ideally, we’d like to source protein in a way that reduces impacts on the environment, is sustainable and meets some animal welfare criterion. These are all very good criteria to support kangaroo harvests. Kangaroos have a much lower impact on the Australian environment. They don’t compact the soil or produce large amounts of wastes, and they don’t produce the methane cattle do. All in all, the Australian environment would be far better off with a few less cattle and a few more kangaroos.

Kangaroos are also superabundant. The wild population can reach 40m individuals in good seasons. They have been harvested for decades- managed and monitored under an excellent regulatory system. The harvest has been shown to be sustainable for many years.

Finally, welfare studies on kangaroo harvests have regularly. It is one of the most humane systems of harvest we have. Basically, skippy goes bounce, bounce, bounce and then bang, a head shot moves the animal instantly out of the world of the living. Compared to this, cattle are crammed into large trucks, transported in conditions of heat stress to an abattoir. The animals can smell the blood and death as they approach and are certainly, not in any happy place.

Note that these kangaroo welfare regulations do not apply to pest-eradication. If kangaroos reach pest levels (as superabdundant animals can do), then the same welfare rules do not apply. Banning the commercial harvest of kangaroo would simply shift the harvest towards ‘pest eradication’ and a lower level of welfare rules.

Kangaroo is also a very good meat. It’s a game meat and very low in fat. It comes from a wild animal, so has little in the way of chemical residues. And, because the animal browses widely for food, the taste is judged to be more flavoursome.

If you want to support the kangaroo harvests, try buying some kangaroo from time-to-time. And please, sign this internet petition organised by Professor Mike Archer.