Editorial comment: Please continue discussion on "Kangaroo Meat - confessions of a serial wildlife killer" (see, also, #moved">below).
The kangaroo killing lobby portrays kangaroo meat eating as being romantic - a new gourmet taste sensation which helps the environment. In reality it is barbaric, potentially dangerous to health and environmentally irresponsible.
KANGAROO MEAT IS UNHEALTHY
Kangaroos are hung upside down with hooks through their hind legs for hours before being killed. This horrific suffering releases myopathy toxins. The bodies are driven around on a dusty unhygienic truck all night then placed in inadequately refrigerated ‘chillers’ for up to two weeks, leading to contamination with faeces, maggots, e.coli and more (see http://www.animal-lib.org.au/campaigns/kangaroo-campaign.htm).
Kangaroo meat can contain salmonella, staphylococcus and streptococcus. However no research into unusual parasites and pathogens such as nematodes that eat stomach and muscle tissue or Trichinella pseudospiralis has received government funding. Until public health risk assessments for known zoonoses have been carried out, the precautionary approach would be to take kangaroo meat off the market, since it is rarely adequately cooked.
Toxoplasmosis outbreaks related to kangaroo meat consumption are well known and have resulted in deaths and multiple illnesses. In 2008 three kangaroo processing plants closed down and Russia rejected imports due to e.coli contamination. Canada, among other countries, has banned the importation of kangaroo meat. Additionally, eating kangaroo meat can cause anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction) and also bowel cancer, as its iron content is twice that of beef (high dietary iron being a risk factor for bowel cancer).
Pets can die from eating kangaroo meat (pet mince) preserved with sulphur dioxide which can cause vitamin B deficiency. Dr Richard Malik, from Sydney University's Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science, said pets affected by sulphur dioxide become wobbly on their legs, may develop a head tilt then progress to seizures, paralysis and death.
KANGAROO FARMS CANNOT REPLACE COWS, SHEEP
Kangaroos cannot be farmed. They cannot be herded or driven into yards or abattoirs because they get too stressed (capture myopathy) and the lactic acid builds up in their muscles causing the meat to go rancid and become inedible. Nor can they be transported live unless the appropriate techniques and medications are used.
Being slaughtered in the field presents health and financial problems. The farmer would need transportable chillers to send to the processors, plus the animals would need to be inspected in the field prior to slaughter to ensure the meat was healthy.
Kangaroos eat native vegetation (not wheat) and it would take many years to grow back native plants. They also need a lot of space to roam and cannot be confined in overcrowded areas. Kangaroo-proof fencing is very expensive (DPI recommends 12 wires alternately electrified, 2.13 metres high).
Then there is the question of ownership. Under the Constitution all wildlife is ‘owned’ by the Crown and therefore cannot be privately ‘owned,’ although farmers can own land and wildlife habitat. And even if they could be owned, tagging kangaroos would require expensive and risky tranquilisation. Branding them would kill many or cause myopathy, again making the meat inedible.
Kangaroos are small animals. An adult yields 6.9 kg of meat, only 3 kg of which would be human grade. Current annual kangaroo meat production is 57,000 tonnes compared to 1,7000,000 tonnes of beef. In order to produce enough meat to replace beef the entire kangaroo population would have to be killed hundreds of times over every year.
Kangaroos breed from 2-3 years of age and only produce one joey a year. Survival rate for joeys is low, especially during a drought. Sheep breed from 1 year of age and can produce twins. Joeys are dependent on their mothers for 14 months (sheep for only a few months) and so cannot be transported or sold as live young. Sheep produce meat, skin and wool - kangaroos produce only meat and skin. A 10 year old adult male red kangaroo weighing 60 kg can only produce 6 kg of prime cut meat. Lambs can be slaughtered at 3-6 months of age to produce 20 kg meat (Preuss, 1999) and a 2 year old cow can produce 200 kg of meat. Clearly kangaroo farming is not economically viable.
THE KANGAROO INDUSTRY IS UNSUSTAINABLE
The Department of the Environment talks about the ‘sustainable harvesting of renewable resources.’ However their figures show that in most of the states where kangaroos are hunted they are at ‘quasi-extinction’ levels, which, according to the Murray Darling Report, is defined as less than 5 kangaroos per square kilometre. Not only that, the kangaroo industry has killed off the biggest males leaving mainly juveniles. The average age of kangaroos shot is only 2-3 years i.e. barely at breeding age. In 2007 up to 80% of the kangaroos killed in NSW were females. All of these factors are a recipe for extinction. Why is the government failing to protect our wildlife?
According to government websites kangaroo populations have crashed up to 70% from 2001-2006, due mainly to the drought and unrelenting pressure from the kangaroo industry which continues to set unsustainably high quotas that are never met. In 2008 the quota is 3.7 million making this THE LARGEST SLAUGHTER OF LAND-BASED WILDLIFE ON THE PLANET.
We Australians should hang our heads in shame. At the rate we are killing kangaroos for meat and skins combined with the drought, bush fires, farmer kills, illegal killing, roadkill, habitat destruction for development, government ‘culling’ programs etc, it has been estimated that kangaroos could be extinct in the wild as soon as 2012 to 2020 (www.stopkangarookilling.org). Please sign the petition calling for a moratorium at www.gopetition.com/petitions/kangaroo-extinction.html
KANGAROO KILLING IS INHUMANE
We are assured that kangaroos are humanely killed according to ‘the code.’ However all the killing is performed from moving vehicles in the bush at night, unsupervised, by shooters whose proficiency is questionable. Many kangaroos are shot in the face or neck and left to die painfully of starvation and gangrene. Others are still conscious after being shot and while being disembowelled. The adult females that are killed often have an in-pouch joey and an at-foot joey. The in-pouch joey is either decapitated, stomped on or bashed to death against a tree or truck. The at-foot joey flees to die of starvation, hypothermia or predation. See this cruelty at www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcMkNYOBvW8 (Warning: graphic content, adults only).
WHY THE PUSH TO EAT ‘$KIPPY’??
It’s true that European farming of livestock has wreaked havoc on our environment. Livestock cause soil erosion and destroy soil ecosystems by compacting the soil with hard hooves, thereby causing deserts. They destroy forests and wildlife habitat because grazing land has to be continuously created. The methane and nitrous oxide from their belching/farting/manure (especially dairy cows) leads to the creation of massive amounts of greenhouse gas (more than the entire transport sector). Over half the water used for all purposes is required by the livestock industry. This is the worst drought in 100 years and water should be used for crops to feed people, not livestock. Cows poop 100 times more than people so their massive amounts of manure pollute water (ground and surface) and cause dead zones in the oceans. Since up to 80% of all grains in the world are used to fatten livestock instead of feeding hungry people, livestock farming contributes to world hunger. Therefore 20 million Australians eating cows and sheep is not sustainable or healthy for the planet. However eating kangaroos that do not produce methane or soil erosion, water pollution etc is NOT the solution! The solution to the environmental pollution caused by the livestock industry is staring us in the face. “NOTHING WILL BENEFIT HUMAN HEALTH OR INCREASE THE CHANCES FOR SURVIVAL ON EARTH AS WILL THE EVOLUTION TO A VEGETARIAN DIET.” ~ ALBERT EINSTEIN
A $200 million a year kangaroo industry is not going to shut down because people and pets are dying, Australia’s $85 billion tourist industry is being jeopardised or kangaroos are heading towards extinction. As long as there is money to be made and people to be paid off, this ugly business will continue. Read about the kangaroo industry at www.smuggled.com/vac.htm
Let’s support nature-based eco-tourism at http://www.rootourism.com.au
Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg! The kangaroo is the spirit of Australia, and is our great national icon.
As Steve Irwin so wisely said "It's embarrassing for Australia that we eat our own wildlife...I'm here to tell you it's just not right. Simply do not buy, eat or use kangaroo products."
If you don't want to see kangaroos go the way of the passenger pigeon in North America sign this extremely important petition and spread the word: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/kangaroo-extinction.com
HELP US GET TO 10,000 SIGNATURES!
#moved" id="moved">Editorial comment: Please continue on "Kangaroo Meat - confessions of a serial wildlife killer"
(As also posted on the second comments page) I am closing the comments on this article,
Please continue the discussions underneath Tigerquoll's article "Kangaroo Meat - confessions of a serial wildlife killer" of 31 Mar 10.
I am closing the comments on this article, because the bug in the installed version drupal comment moduke (see below) makes continued discussion here unwieldy,
Apologies for incorrect links to comments
Also, my apologies for the bug in the software that creates the links on the main page to these comments.
Links to the second page of comments should be, as an example:
... rather than: