Meal time: THINKK wants us to reconsider what we do with kangaroos. Hmm, fried or roasted?

Kangaroo defenders: going nowhere

A research organisation supported by animal rights groups has foretold the collapse of the kangaroo industry and says we should replace it with insurance and ecotourism. It’s a hollow and pointless position that ignores facts.

The Think Tank for Kangaroos (THINKK) says it may be “time for Australia to consider such approaches and take pride in our kangaroos”. The approach they’re angling for is clear when you look at who backs THINKK: Voiceless, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Clover Moore Salary Trust Fund and others of that ilk.

“It is time for the federal and state governments to reassess kangaroo management,” THINKK’s Keely Boom says today on website The Conversation. “The industry has been based upon erroneous underpinnings, portraying kangaroos as ‘pests’ without any clear justification.”

However, Boom fails to acknowledge that a major underpinning of the industry is that kangaroos are a resource. She focusses instead on the fact the roo industry in its current guise is facing difficulties such as its major market, Russia, blocking imports – difficulties based partly on the ideological activism of animals rights groups like Voiceless…

She posits two alternatives: insurance against damage to agricultural interests; and ecotourism. Insurance will be expensive – possibly impossible – when you consider that roo damage occurs everywhere, all the time, unless you fence them out of their main grazing areas. Ecotourism is not only failing Africa (Kenya has lost 70% of its game under IFAW’s ecotourism-driven watch, despite a blanket ban on hunting and consumptive use), it’d be irrelevant here. There aren’t enough tourists for all the kangaroos. I counted 93 greys in a roughly 3.2 area where I live, and they’re all fairly tolerant of humans, but I doubt I could attract ecotourists in the numbers I’d need to make it worthwhile.

I don’t think THINKK’s supporters will get the outcome they’re angling for. A sustainable, consumptive kangaroo industry is the obvious way to go.

We have farmers exasperated by the fact that the kangaroos they cull legally under the tag system must be left to rot in paddocks. A healthy roo industry would allow them, or contract shooters, to not only avoid such pointless waste, but benefit in real terms from the animals. This would undoubtedly lead to many landowners relying on them for part of their income and therefore encouraging healthy populations.

Ironically, we see this with feral goats. In many places they are allowed to breed up, then are mustered and sold. Australia’s laws encourage us to maintain a hoofed feral pest, yet ban us from doing the same with a soft-footed native.

Meanwhile, the obvious thing to add to the mix is the right of hunters to take kangaroos for their own consumption. If I could do that, I’d be more tempted to hit the local goat population harder. And I’d eat better.

Boom’s article reveals the lack of depth THINKK and animal liberationists add to the debate about a sustainable future. It is already being torn to shreds by well-considered comments by knowledgeable people. The comments themselves imply a high level of support for sensible resource management and an aversion to the sentimentality of the antis. It’s good to see.

Let’s hope our regulators, and our foreign customers, get the message. Go for it, THINKK, let’s get this debate onto the front pages.




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.