Gus's Musings

September 15, 2019

Kangaroos – An emotional discussion

Kangaroo management is such an emotive subject, they are such a magnificent iconic animals, pride of place on the Coat of Arms, Australia’s own symbol.  The sight of a full grown red kangaroo bounding along is awesome.  The sight of a mob of a few hundred eating the last remnants of vegetation that you have been looking after is appalling.  So how can we manage kangaroos in a way where the whole of our community are proud of them, rather than just those that don’t see them very often and their management not ruined by them.

Kangaroos are causing a lot of environmental destruction currently and not just across the Rangelands, over many land types.  Yes the poor management of domestic livestock causes landscape degradation as well, that is inexcusable as we have ability to manage them.  Roos on the other hand aren’t that easy to manage and it can become a major burden on farmers that are already stretched dealing with an extremely dry period.

To me it comes down to the simple question; What is more important, environmental health or kangaroo welfare because you can’t have both?  Now by far and away the most important issue is environmental health, so we need to put a lot more focus on that in this discussion.  Currently good land management comes from going outside the law to reduce roo numbers down to levels that can allow for recovery and rest for the landscape.  With minimal acceptable tools that a landholder has to reduce the population, compromises on animal welfare will need to happen.  This will help drive our society to come up with better more acceptable methods of decreasing numbers.

Animal Farmers love animals and really dislike to see waste, so when Roos are shot and left to rot, then this is again just demeaning to the farmer and the species of roos.  With kangaroos being a choice meat for the last 30,000yrs in this country and the skins being fantastic leather (why is synthetic material even suggested to be more sustainable or healthy to us or the planet?), to see both go to waste is upsetting.  No doubt, commercial harvest of Roos is the most socially acceptable way of controlling roo numbers, however the way it is managed, it is unable to achieve any reduction in population.

Kangaroos are currently seen as a major problem in our landscape and with populations reaching such high numbers, they can be seen as a very real risk to themselves, with a high densities attracting disease.  The “boom bust” cycle (Numbers in western NSW have been >3 times higher than pre livestock grazing levels) that their species goes through is very harmful to the landscape as well as farmers mental health that have to watch them die through droughts.  Enabling a much more significant market to develop would then mean that kangaroos can be part of our landscape solution and be valued by many more of our community.

Right now farmers need support to make sure that the right decisions are made around this issue, the roo is too important to the country and the landscape health is really vital.  We need to view this issue using consensus, if there is no other workable solution provided it is deemed that society agree and support landholders.  This again will put much needed pressure on our whole community to develop more workable option, or failing that simply provide good support to those managing the population for everyone.

Kangaroos, their management and total environmental health go together and are critical to our future, we all have a role in making that happen.


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