Did you know it’s World Kangaroo Day?
There’s an uncomfortable truth few people want to acknowledge and that’s surrounding the commercial killing of kangaroos.
As Australia launches a global tourism campaign using the iconic animal to lure tourists Down Under, the European Union is considering a ban on kangaroo meat and skin imports due to concerns over the way in which they meet their doom.
Many Australians are appalled by Japan’s slaughter of whales and dolphins or Canada’s killing of fur seals, but what we are doing to our kangaroos is far worse than that.
More to meat than meets the eye
Kangaroos are shot for their meat and the skins, then exported, but it happens with little monitoring and now with new evidence that points to a massive loss of kangaroo bio-diversity, which is a problem for the European Union.
The commercial killing of kangaroos happens in the secrecy of the dead of night, on properties where neighbours report hearing their screams in the dark.
I highly doubt Tourism Australia thought choosing a cartoon kangaroo as its ambassador would create any waves. But the backlash from animal advocates and concerned Australians has forced Australia actor Rose Byrne, the voice of the computer-animated marsupial, to switch off her social media.
The fact is, Australia has dropped the ball as it turns a blind eye to the commercial killing of kangaroos, despite warnings and a parliamentary inquiry recommending urgent action after finding evidence of an unsustainable animal welfare crisis in the commercial kangaroo industry.
The Health and Wellbeing of Kangaroos
The New South Wales parliamentary report into the Health and Wellbeing of Kangaroos and other macropods examined the way the NSW government manages the commercial kangaroo industry, with the inquiry recommending there be greater transparency of kangaroo management plans, programs and practices.
There was unanimous agreement from the inquiry that there was an appalling inability from both the NSW government and representatives from the commercial kangaroo industry to answer basic questions about their methods.
Despite the inquiry handing down 23 recommendations to the New South Wales government, only two were accepted in full.
No one is monitoring this commercial killing
Both the NSW and Federal Governments were forced to admit that no one is monitoring this commercial killing at the point of kill and that no records are kept on the number of baby joeys killed each year.
How can we have any faith in so-called ‘codes of practice’ on kangaroo killing if no-one is monitoring how the animals are actually killed in the field.
The fact is, Europe will act first by banning the import of products, which will in turn cripple this industry.
A European Parliamentary committee is holding a parliamentary debate on a ban on kangaroo imports on World Kangaroo Day in Brussels, after being petitioned by European animal welfare organizations, highlighting issues raised by the kangaroo trade for animal welfare, consumer protection and the environment.
EU the largest importer of kangaroo products
EU countries are the largest importers of kangaroo products, for pet food, handbags and soccer boots.
But we are already seeing several European supermarkets including giant French Carrefour ban kangaroo meat from its stores, while luxury brands like Gucci, Prada and Versace have also stopped using kangaroo skins in their bags, belts and shoes because of the way the animals are killed.
Even English soccer icon David Beckham stopped wearing Adidas shoes made from kangaroo skins.
Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinctions in the world, with 54 native animals becoming extinct and an additional 400 listed as threatened.
We need to learn to value these international icons and acknowledge that they are worth much more to Australia alive. Our tourist industry relies on them.
It’s time to get serious about their welfare, and not just use them in tourism campaigns when it suits us.
So where the bloody hell are you then?