Kangaroos have become an environmental problem in Australia due to their high reproductive rate. Their population has grown significantly and their range is expanding, making them a threat.
If kangaroos continue their population explosion, their food availability could be compromised and they could starve. According to experts, the number of these animals can reach tens of millions when they find abundant forage after the rainy season. But they can also die en masse when the drought hits.
Some environmental groups consider the mass killing of these marsupials a humanitarian measure.
But the Australian government has faced criticism and public outcry from some other citizens for choosing to subject them to mass slaughter rather than watch them starve.
Australia has been monitoring the number of kangaroos that pass through the region, the massive overpopulation of kangaroos can cause a huge problem with food and wildlife. An unusual debate was opened in the country.
“During the last drought, we estimate that between 80% and 90% of kangaroos died in some areas.”, explained environmentalist Katherine Moseby. “They go to public restrooms and even eat toilet paper.”, he commented.
Moseby said that killing kangaroos for their fur and meat would add more meaning to this mass slaughter intended to spare them a lifetime of deprivation and suffering.
”It would make it possible to limit the number of animals so that, in case of drought, there would be no welfare problems”, said the ecologist and added: “If we considered them as a resource and managed them that way, we wouldn’t have the catastrophic deaths we know.”.
Is the kangaroo an endangered species?
The Australian government protects the majority of the kangaroo population, but the most common species are not endangered. The hunting of some of them in designated areas is authorized and each year, up to 5 million kangaroos are killed for their meat or hide.
Dennis King’s Kangaroo Industry Association in Queensland says the country is on the verge of the animal’s peak population growth. The association said that after terrible droughts in the early 2000s, the kangaroo population fell to less than 30 million, but has since recovered and could reach 60 million soon.
“Cruel slaughter”: criticism from animal defense organizations
Many animal advocacy organizations have denounced the commercial culling as “cruel slaughter” and pressured brands such as Nike and Puma to stop using kangaroo leather in their products.
“Nike split from its sole supplier of kangaroo leather in 2021 and stopped manufacturing all kangaroo leather products in 2023″ clarified a company spokesperson in March.
In the US state of Oregon, hometown of Nike, a bill was introduced in early 2023 to ban the use of “any part of the dead kangaroo”.
“These native animals are slaughtered with fines for commercial gain.”, denounces the organization Animals Australia.
But campaigns to stamp out the industry, while well-intentioned, can be misleading and impede the development of this conservation area. Kimberley Wilson is a leading expert in monitoring kangaroo populations. “They say it’s unethical. But neither is letting them starve.“, he claimed. “What would be cruel is to do nothing’ he added.
Moseby agreed with his opinion. “Stopping kangaroos for their hide or meat will not do any good. It will only make things worse“, he claimed.