I covered this in 52 charities*, but here is a very. brief. recap. after a conversation yesterday with an ex-vegetarian who had bought into popular fiction that kangaroo meat is OK to eat.
Here are some facts to counter the fiction.
It is not sustainable. If everyone decided kangaroo meat was A-OK there would soon be no kangaroos left. Putting that kind of pressure on any wild species leads to a narrowed gene pool and ultimately, as has happened with many ‘abundant’ species in the past, extinction.
It is definitely not ethical. The killing is done free from scrutiny. And this suits the killers just fine.
A head shot is the most ‘ethical’ way to kill an animal.
I know people who love kangaroos and want the best for them so volunteer their time to care for them when injured, and to euthanise them when beyond help. Even to get a clean head shot on a partly immobilised animal is extraordinarily difficult. Usually two shots are required to ensure that life is extinguished as quickly as possible.
Imagine yourself at night, trying to hit a very fast, very frightened, distant animal which moves in unpredictable jumps and has a tiny head, only a small part of which contains the brain which is what must be hit?
Severe but non-fatal injuries or prolonged and painful deaths are norms, not exceptions.
(Oh and don’t forget there are often joeys in the pouch. Also, like horses, kangaroos have complex social systems which are destroyed by these indiscriminate massacres.)
I know most people will continue to eat meat. I can’t stop them. But I hope sharing information can help call out the ‘Emperor for wearing no clothes’ and encourage people to take genuine ownership of their choices.
Arguments citing sustainability and ethics are false self-justifications. If ethics are really a concern, is any meat really ‘ethical’…except, maybe, roadkill?
*Extract from Week 8 of 52 Charities
Illustration: Geoff Richardson
Text: Eleanor Nurse
Our kangaroos are hunted in the largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet and hunters are permitted by law to take not only males but also females with joeys in pouch and dependent young.
The roo meat industry treats these joeys as collateral damage in the hunt for profits.
Under the relevant industry Codes of Practice that govern the hunts, shooters are instructed to “euthanase” the joeys of any female who is killed either by decapitation or a single blow or shot to the head.
Those who are not caught and killed will most likely die as a result of starvation, exposure or predation without the protection of their mothers.
All of this happens in the wild and at night, hidden from public view.
This might be why so many Australians are on board with kangaroo meat. The kangaroo industry has escaped the scrutiny levelled against many of Australia’s other meat industries in part because it is nearly impossible to get a look at the killing.
Unlike most animals killed for food who are pre-stunned and slaughtered in abattoirs, kangaroos are shot in rural areas, usually from afar, and in complete darkness.
The industry codes do stipulate they must be shot in the “brain”, but this is not an easy job.
In 2002, the RSPCA estimated that 120,000 kangaroos are “body shot” each year, wounded but not killed.