by Antje Struthmann
I migrated to Australia over 20 years ago. 17 years ago I started to raise and care for unfurred, just furred, orphaned, sick and injured, Eastern Grey Kangaroo joeys, teenagers and the occasional sick/injured young adult animal. I soon learned that kangaroos are majestic gentle animals and their beautiful natures still mesmerize me today. They are the most pleasant creatures I have ever worked with. I live on a large property so my joeys in care release themselves, when they are ready to leave the nest. I am blessed with being able to study my joeys in care from an early age and long after they left. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that it is true that I can stand in the midst of a wild mob and have close contact with some of the wild bucks.
May I give you an insight into the behavior of wild mobs. Kangaroos have a unique, rich, hierarchical structure that is as vital to the Kangaroo mob as is the passing on of the strongest genetic gene pool.
I always compare Kangaroos with Gorillas, as they too have a King and a Queen and live in mobs. The female kangaroo grooms only her own offspring and therefore is not as socializing within the group as the female gorilla. Young male offspring will leave the mob as early as 22 months of age, while the female offspring stay with their mothers to learn how to raise and educate their young. Kangaroos also grieve the loss of their close family members. Sometimes both parents look for their lost offspring and grieve its loss. Partners grieve for their soul mate and sometimes die of a broken heart shortly after. If a Kangaroo is very sick, injured or dies there are always close friends and close family members around the sick animal. Even so they might not get too close except for the closest member of that animal but they will stay with her/him until he/she recovers or dies. If an animal has died suddenly (shot or killed by car etc) or after an illness, the closest member(s) of the dead animal might wait for him/her and return to the (grave side) for up to 8 weeks.
Like elephants, kangaroos have good long term memory! Kangaroos can not be farmed, herded, transported or trained like cattle and sheep and have a home range of at least 2 sq. km. They are free roaming spirits and this is what they ought to be. But there is one real big difference between gorillas and kangaroos and that is that female Kangaroos can have up to 3 joeys at any given time, once they are mature; one joey in the pouch, one joey at heel and one joey ready to be born. Without this fantastic institution the kangaroo and its subspecies would certainly be extinct by now.
Many years ago, in New South Wales (where I reside), wildlife carers were able to take their more placid wild animals to school to educate the children. They were able to show their joeys in public to rise awareness.
But, a few years back the rules and regulations regarding wildlife caring changed dramatically for the worst.
The Australian TV Series Skippy was banned, so that the audience would not fall in love with their favorite innocent Icon Skippy and develop the so called "Skippy Syndrome". Thanks to the Government and its anti kangaroo laws and regulations, our Icon Skippy turned overnight into a fugitive and became the most harassed, despised, hated and hunted animal in the history of mankind. The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service changed their Wildlife laws and regulations and carers are no longer allowed to visit schools or show their joeys in public. Nor are we allowed to take them on long shopping trips. This is especially hard if we have to drive long distances to do our shopping and our joey needs 3 hourly feeding.
Victoria does not allow carers to use joeys in care for educational purposes either, unless they have a special permit. Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia allow their wildlife carers to educate school children and the public by displaying their less stressed, more placid joeys. A few years ago the Australian Capital Territory Canberra declared Kangaroos " Pests" . All sick and injured animals as well as the joeys of all ages have to be put down! Today, in the year 2003 after the devastating raging fires in Canberra, 95% of all their wildlife has perished!
During the recent terrifying fires in Victoria and New South Wales, 100,000`s of hectares of native bush and grassland has been destroyed and fires are still burning today. The fires are consuming X numbers of hectares on a daily basis .It is estimated that Australia has lost about 95% of all wildlife species in these regions so far.
Kangaroos also have other enemies besides fire and drought; floods, teething problems, mouth infections, blindness, fractures, Tetanus and other diseases, as well as genetically inherited diseases that can wipe out an entire kangaroo family. Kangaroos have feral predators like foxes, wild dogs and dingoes, as well as Australia`s largest Bird of Prey the Wedge tailed Eagle that kills an undisclosed number of kangaroos. Furthermore, thousands of kangaroos die every year because of loss of habitat, abuse of 1080 Poison herbicide, pesticide (chemical) spraying of poison, and on Australian roads nationwide. An undisclosed number of kangaroos die a cruel death caught in the double line of barbwire where they get their feet in fencing. Steel jawed traps are also cruel death traps as they amputate feet and claws. (I found an amputated kangaroo claw once!). The list of injuries from which these animals die is endless.
The reason I am writing to you today is to ask you to help us stop the cruel, barbaric, commercial kangaroo massacre once and for all. I am asking YOU because we need your help to end the cruel barbaric killing.
Those who are in favor of the kangaroo massacre are farmers who mismanage their property through overgrazing and excessive land clearing. They use the kangaroo as a scapegoat and the politicians who desperately want the votes of rural landholders, a few pro kangaroo scientists and wildlife authorities who want to cling on to their useless jobs and of course the commercial kangaroo killing industry.
Australia has experienced the worst ever drought in human settlement and our remaining surviving kangaroos are still hunted down and mercilessly killed by kangaroo shooters, especially the big males and females because they bring the highest economic returns of profits to the industry for the leather sold to ADIDAS, the world largest predator of kangaroos; hence the Predator Football Boot worn by David Beckham. With help from the Multinational giant manufacturer Adidas, things have never been worse for the remaining healthy kangaroos, those animals that are vital for the survival of the future generations.
There is enough written and verbal evidence that kangaroos are not always killed immediately and that the injured animal dies a slow cruel agonizing death. As you must know, Kangaroos gunned down with spotlights during the night. The half-dead kangaroo is skinned or gutted alive. The unfurred joeys are clubbed to death or left to die. Older joeys still depending on their mother, panic, while their mother gets shot and run away just to die a slow death of starvation, stress, hypothermia, psychic depravation or are downed by foxes, and other predators!
Just imagine the daily trauma these defenseless kangaroos have to go through every night before they finally get injured or killed. If you know or can imagine what war feels like then you can imagine what these poor kangaroos have to go through before they finally die! Kangaroos are living, behaving, biological entities with feelings too, not only your cat or dog. These kangaroos live in fear and terror beyond our comprehension. I am sure you would not like your cat or dog to suffer a similar fate as our kangaroos. Some injured animals die of gunshot wound to their face, legs, or other parts of the body and succumb to a slow agonizing cruel death.
There is no governing body watching over the cruel kangaroo massacre, not the RSPCA, not anyone. If over 20.000 kangaroos are slaughtered every night than you have to agree that not every kangaroo can be killed humanely! Illegal kangaroo shooting in rural /outback areas is given tacit support rather than punished.
The barbaric slaughter of millions of defenseless kangaroos and their subspecies has not only become the biggest problem in Australia`s history but it has also become an international disgrace that has to be stopped. Even I lost a few of my free roaming 29 headstrong kangaroo mob due to heat stress and illegal shooting! You must know that we all, are custodians of our fauna and flora, no matter where we live.
I would like you also to know that Australia has the highest and fastest extinction rate in the world! All one has to do is look at the way Australians brutalize their kangaroos, to know why.
The Australian people have no say in any decision making as exemplified when the NSW NPWS ignored 80% of the Australian submissions against the brutal massacre of kangaroos but we must continue to oppose the slaughter of our beautiful kangaroos or there never will be any democracy. Howard's Government also ignores VIVA`s influence in banning kangaroo meat from England's supermarket shelves! Instead of accepting defeat of a kangaroo market the Prime Minister went on his knees to beg the English retailers to keep buying our blood stained kangaroo products. Unsuccessful, he went to other European Countries.
Dr. Kemp, Minister for Environment and Heritage also begged ADIDAS to keep on buying Kangaroo leather, which they still do. But what I can not understand is why such globally known manufacturers as Nike and ADIDAS are so desperate that they have to depend on Australia`s cruelty to animals to make big dollars!
Adidas was too cowardly to promote their own products of which they should have been proud, but they had to employ a Celebrity Football player David Beckham to do their dirty work! !! Shame on them! And NIKE is not any better!
Government officials know little about the value of the kangaroo to caring Australians and people the world over, but it is they who are legally supposed to protect the Kangaroo from any harm! Ironically, however, it is this same governing body, the Department of Environment & Heritage that is hell-bent on destroying our kangaroos and their subspecies.
They have no legal mandate to do what they do, yet they decided unilaterally to increase the kangaroo slaughter in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia for the Years 2002-2007. My personal conclusion is that Dr David Kemp approved the Plans because kangaroo numbers are declining in NSW and they could not support the Kangaroo Industry overseas. As there is only a few kilograms of usable meat "for human consumption" on a big kangaroo, the rest is legally used in Woolworth/ Safeway's cruel Pet food trade, despite howls of protests from Australians who are the losers! While we continue to protest, the last hope and lifeline for kangaroos are overseas consumers wherever you may live! DON"T BUY SKIPPY!
Australians are forced to fund through taxes 50% of the Kangaroo Industry but You have the POWER to make a difference for the Kangaroo's sake! Say NO to cruelty to the kangaroos and their subspecies.
Do not buy Kangaroo products like meat, or leather products like shoes, purses, handbags etc. Insist to know what meat they give you in heart rehabilitation Centers as they may intentionally serve you kangaroo meat! (My Grandma got it served at her stay there!)
If you should decide to pay Australia a visit, insist on a written Tourist guarantee that you are 100% able to see plentiful Australian native wildlife where ever you might like to stay in the outback and not only dust, dirt, sheep, cattle and feral animals! Insist on getting value for your money and a genuine wildlife experience !
The future of the Kangaroos lies now in your hands, the reader and the consumer.
Remember if the buying stops, the cruel killing stops.
13th February 2003