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Byron Shire
June 13, 2021

‘Natural’ cruelty

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Richard Swinton, Clunes

While I agree with Desmond Bellamy’s concerns about animal cruelty, the issue of ‘natural’ cruelty if the kangaroo population explodes has to be remembered. Many people, especially overseas-based uneducated people, think that the cuddly kangaroo is threatened – far from it.

Before we ‘developed’ the inland country areas, kangaroo population was limited by a lack of reachable watering points, so population was kept under control with mobs moving around following rainfall events and fresh grass. The sophisticated birth control processes that exist, with females able to hold an embryo in suspension until seasons become favourable, allowed populations to bounce back quickly after major droughts. This is the challenge of droughts and flooding rains. Is that cruel to let them die in droughts in such a way?

But we created a much bigger problem when we installed watering points to suit our ‘softy’ cattle, and kangaroo numbers were no longer limited by water availability, so their numbers have massively increased and tens of thousands now die in drought because they eat out the grasses. Graziers try to balance stock numbers to suit the feed situation, but it’s impossible to allow for all the overpopulated kangaroos. And consequently many starve – that’s cruelty – a slow horrible death, adult and joey alike. I think culling is less cruel.

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  1. So I just want to make sure I have what you say clear – you’re saying it’s ok to be cruel, that is cause pain, distress, suffering and death, as long as it’s “natural”.
    There’d be more room for roos, a native on this land, if graziers didn’t raise animals for the death industry (more cruelty).
    In reality, there are way too many humans on the planet – do the same rules apply? Shall we cull? Who shall we choose?

  2. You miss the point eve and Barry. You would rather let them slowly starve to death, well that’s humane! Anyway the letter writer was pointing out the problem and the moral judgement that is hard to apply in this situation.

    • There are several areas in this article by Richard Swinton from Clunes which need correction.
      The first thing Australians should understand is that kangaroos are far from pests, they are NOT slaughtered for this reason. They are killed for their skins to make one of the finest leathers. Newspaper advertisments going back to 1806 can be found advertising kangaroo skins for leather.
      1) overseas people are probably more aware of the situation and the plight of kangaroos than the majority of Australians are.
      2) Kangaroos in many areas of Australia are now extinct due to the commercial kangaroo industry. Over the last 40 years or so the shooters have continually taken the biggest and the best. What now remains are small males, no Alpha males to protect the females and the genetics have suffered badly. Family groups have been broken up and generally confusion reigns amongst the remaining kangaroos.
      3) kangaroos are NOT water focused (Montague-Drake 2004).
      4) It takes 18 months to bring a joey to the point of weaning and in good times juvenile mortality rate is 75% in drought it can be 100% Kangaroos breeed slower than humans.
      5) their population does NOT bounce back quickly and can only increase by at most 10% a year if left without any further killing https://www.kangaroosatrisk.net/2-biology–population-ecology.html
      6) Kangaroos have lived in harmony with this land for thousands of years and in the true sense of the word CULLING, this was done by Mother Nature during drought or other catastrophic. Those who died were the old, weak and sick thus keeping the genetics strong.
      Seeing kangaroos die in drought is a natural occurrence, seeing the remains of a shooters butchering site is far more horrific especially when you know that the biggest and the best have been slaughtered for their skins and the money they sell for.
      7) It is not kangaroos that eat out the grasses in paddocks. Professor Gordon Grigg devised a formula to calculate the metabolic rate of grazing animals. 50 kangaroos eat as much daily as one bovine. 5 kangaroos eat as much daily as one sheep. 2.5 rabitts eat as much daily as one kangaroo. It appears that farmers and scientist do not take into account the millions of deer in Australia or any of the other feral animals, they only consider that the kangaroo damages fences and eats grass.
      8) There is absolutely no monitoring of shooters when they are in the field but evidence of their cruelty is abundant when they move onto another area. Joeys with their heads bashes in, or heads stomped on, heads detached from bodies when put under the foot of the shooter. Adult heads with no bullet wound in them, heads which clearly show throat cuts because the shooter did not find the mark. Is this why they cut off the kangaroos head when field dressing?
      For further information please have a look at either https://www.australiaskangaroos.org/…..or …..https://kangaroosarenotshoes.org/


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