Victorian kangaroos are being brutally slaughtered every single night, for profit. They are in crisis, relentlessly massacred as part of the unethical, unsustainable and unhygienic kangaroo trade. Their bodies are used for pet food, human consumption, skins for ‘k-leather’, supplements, and body parts for macabre souvenirs. This is part of the world's largest mammalian wildlife trade. The killing is causing great distress to many in the community and we have no faith that it is well monitored or regulated, or that the population figures are accurate.
Kangaroos are shot in the wild at night. Inevitably human error means many are not killed outright and suffer until the shooter finds them whilst others escape with horrific injuries such as jaws, noses and forearms blown off. They die slowly in agony from infection and starvation. In 2023, Wildlife Victoria announced that their records show a 55% increase in gunshot wounds since the inception of the commercial Kangaroo Harvesting Program in Victoria in 2019. The Code of Practice dictates pouch joeys should be decapitated or bashed to death whilst dependent at-foot joeys should be shot, though they usually escape to die slowly of exposure, stress, predation and starvation. Shooting terrorises mobs, changing their behaviour, and damaging their intricate social structure.
It is unethical to people too…
It is unethical to Indigenous people for whom kangaroos are a Creator Spirit and Sacred Totem, and those who oppose the industry as continued extractive colonialism. Learn more here.
It is unethical to wildlife volunteers who are left to end the suffering of the wounded and rehabilitate the orphans. They are highly distressed and traumatised by the cruelty they witness, as well as the knowledge that the government is actively undermining the critical work they do improving outcomes and instilling community respect for our wildlife.
It is unethical to Victorians who value kangaroos and are faced with their beloved local mobs being constantly in danger or found as a pile of stinking heads, paws and guts near their homes and businesses.
Independent scientists have long been raising the alarm that government statics are deeply flawed and keep changing the parameters to create the illusion of abundance or at least stability in populations. Kangaroos are not and cannot be farmed, and no one actually knows how many kangaroos there are as estimates are based on small numbers seen in surveys and then extrapolated. For example, DELWP estimated 7000 kangaroos on the Mornington Peninsula and yet a rigorous count on the ground overseen by Dr Greg Holland found only 2200. The quotas are based on the government’s estimates regardless of how incorrect they are. The government also has a financial interest in ensuring kangaroo populations are perceived as stable or high, which has lead to some stunningly impossible statistical leaps. The Victorian count in 2021 showed a 40% increase in kangaroos over two years which, even if we hadn’t had drought and catastrophic bushfires, would be double the biologically possible rate of increase for kangaroos if they were in ideal conditions with no shooting. The 2023 Quota Report shows yet more biologically impossible population leaps and entirely disregards the devastating impacts of the 2022 floods.
Honorary Associate Professor David Brooks recently said of kangaroo population estimates: 'It is hard to see how they could in any way approximate reality or perform any other function than to mask the true extent of the damage already done to the species and perpetuate the gross delinquency of the industry' (Brooks, 2022).
There were already far too many ‘culls’ without consideration of non-lethal alternatives, yet since the commercial industry was introduced in 2014 (supposedly to reduce waste from ‘culling’) the combined average quotas have now more than TRIPLED. The 2018 review of the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial showed it may have actually increased waste, as well as being lawless, corrupt, a threat to sustainability, and low-value to the tax payer. This damning report was brazenly ignored by Victorian Labor who launched the Kangaroo Harvesting Program, removed the need for landholder permits and opened nearly the whole state to ‘harvesting’.
Recently, independent biostatistician Claire Galea has released a damning critique of the flawed kangaroo counting processes that are putting Victorian kangaroos at grave risk. Despite this, commercial quotas continue to increase and the industry is trying to expand. Meanwhile, community members are expressing concern to Victorian Kangaroo Alliance about disappearing kangaroos, and profiteering shooters are increasingly desperate to find those remaining. Shooters are commissioning newspaper advertisements, leafleting, door-knocking, and soliciting widely across community Facebook groups in a bid to find scarce kangaroos. Hundreds of posts were found across more than 100 Facebook groups in the past two years. There are likely many more in private groups. This paints a grim picture for our kangaroos and the ecosystems that depend on them for soil rejuvenation and seed dispersal.
The future of kangaroo populations is in jeopardy. Males make up roughly two thirds of kangaroos killed in Victoria, with larger males targeted due to the financial incentive for shooters who are paid per kilo. We simply do not know the long term outcome of destroying complex mob structures by removing dominant adults, and artificially selecting against the biggest and strongest individuals. In fact, the 'Victorian Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan 2021-2023' noted this as a concern: 'The genetic diversity of species can be influenced by the selective removal of individuals that display specific traits, potentially reducing the species’ fitness. This could become a risk if harvested kangaroos are selected for specific traits, in numbers that are high enough to have long-term genetic impacts'. We are essentially playing Russian roulette with the future of the species, with no idea how the killing may affect their long-term survivability and genetic integrity.
Kangaroos are field dressed (beheaded, gutted and dismembered) hanging from utes by shooters with little to no protective clothing. There is virtually no oversight of shooter activities in the field. The open carcasses are then driven around on open utes with dust and flies and crammed next to other highly diseased species like wild pigs. The unsanitary conditions lead to a high incidence of parasites, toxoplasmosis, e-coli, salmonella and other pathogens in kangaroo meat. Imports of kangaroo meat have been banned and stocks removed from shelves in areas across the globe on hygiene and animal welfare grounds.
Kangaroos are naturally full of parasites and pathogens, including epidemics of blindness and a mysterious super-fatal haemorrhagic disease. These afflictions are harmless to humans and farm animals if we simply leave kangaroos alone. However, it is well known that 75% of new and emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic (originate in other animals) and the mass exploitation and handling of wild animals is of particular concern. Thus the intensive handling of kangaroo carcasses makes this ripe for the emergence of a new zoonotic killer.
THE KILLING HAS TO STOP.
We are calling on Victorian Labor to put an end to this barbaric cruel industry once and for all. We are in the middle of a sixth mass extinction and biodiversity crisis with wildlife making up only four percent of the world’s mammals. Now is the time for Labor to start conserving our unique and iconic kangaroos and treating them with the respect they deserve.
Kangaroos are iconic and worth much more alive for their inherent, Totemic and tourist value. In fact, tourism generates more to Australia's economy than everything else put together, with nature-based tourism the most rapidly growing sector. Studies by Griffith University and Tourism Australia show the biggest attraction of our country to international travellers is our wildlife, proving that live kangaroos are worth far more to our economy alive than dead.
Please join us in calling on Victorian Labor to stop the kangaroo carnage and promote progressive and respectful cohabitation with our iconic kangaroos.
This industry thrives on secrecy and misinformation peddled by the industry and governments that profit from exploiting our wildlife. Here are some recommended resources to learn more:
Information from independent scientists: