On a ten year average, it is estimated that 800,000 dependent joeys are killed as collateral damage of the kangaroo industry each year.1 They are voiceless.
The hidden slaughter of Australia’s native iconic animal, the kangaroo, is unrelenting and largely ignored. Kangaroos are the victims of a small industry,2 yet their suffering is immense.
As kangaroos are shot in the wild and at night when they are most active, the cruelty associated with their slaughter is hidden from the public eye.
We must stand up for them. We must be their voice.
While we know that millions of kangaroos will be slaughtered as part of the commercial trade to be used in pet food, for their skins and to make tourist souvenirs,3 what is less known is the sad fate of joeys.
Callously treated as collateral damage, joeys are killed or left to die when their mothers are killed by shooters.
Given that female kangaroos can have a joey in pouch and dependent young at foot,4 this is an enormous welfare issue that affects hundreds of thousands of young lives.
Joeys are meant to be killed humanely in accordance with industry codes, yet a lack of enforcement makes it impossible to ensure that these basic requirements are actually met.5 Depending on their age, Australian law permits shooters to kill orphaned joeys by bludgeoning their skulls with a blunt instrument, or by decapitation.6
Research has even found that pouch joeys’ heads are often swung against vehicles, a brutal and ineffective means of slaughter that is unlikely to kill them outright.7
If not killed, orphaned joeys bereft of their mothers’ protection will be left to starve or die slowly from exposure – resulting in a slow, cruel death.
All of this is the result of a profit-driven industry that cannot operate without animal suffering.
- Cruel trade or fair game?
- Tiny industry with cruel impact
- Failure of regulation
- Contamination concerns
- Persecuted or pest?
- Voiceless Rethinking: Kangaroos Lecture 2016
- 1. See Ben-Ami D, Boom K, Boronyak L, Townend C, Ramp D, Croft D and Bekoff M, ‘The welfare ethics of the commercial killing of free ranging kangaroos: an evaluation of the benefits and costs of the industry’ (2014) 23(1) Animal Welfare 1, 5. Estimation based on ecological data and national commercial kill statistics for the period 2000-2009. This does not include the joeys killed as a consequence of non-commercial shooting. Numbers of joeys killed or left to die are not recorded. Accordingly, figures are a 10 year projection based on the authors’ calculations (methods outlined in the article) and the national commercial kill statistics provided by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Population and Communities in 2010.
- 2. In a recent survey conducted by the Centre for Compassionate Conservation, the monetary value of the kangaroo industry was estimated to be around A$88.8 million in 2011-12, and it was conservatively estimated to employ about 888 full time jobs during that period. See Boronyak-Vasco L, Perry N, ‘Using tradeable permits to improve efficiency, equity and animal protection in the commercial kangaroo harvest’ (2015) 114 Ecological Economics 159, 162
- 3. It is estimated that 1.61 million adult kangaroos were killed in 2012 to provide domestic and export products such as meat for human or animal consumption, and hides and skins for the production of leather goods: Boronyak-Vasco and Perry, ibid, 160.
- 4. Kangaroos at Risk, ‘Biology’, Kangaroos at Risk <http://www.kangaroosatrisk.org/biology.html>, accessed 10 February 2016.
- 5. Boom K, Ben-Ami D, Boronyak L, Kangaroo Court: Enforcement of the law governing commercial kangaroo killing (THINKK, UTS, 2012) 70-72.
- 6. National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (2008) s 5.1; National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Non-Commercial Purposes (2008) s 5.1.
- 7. McLeod S and Sharp T, Improving the humaneness of commercial kangaroo harvesting (Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, 2014) 21; Kangaroos at Risk, Welfare <http://www.kangaroosatrisk.org/welfare.html> accessed 18 February 2016