ANKARA – Kangaroo culling is a topic that divides opinions in Australia, with advocates viewing it as a necessity and activists opposing it as a brutal practice catering to commercial interests.
Australian states have quotas for the number of kangaroos that can be legally killed.
Latest government figures show that more than 36 million kangaroos and wallaroos subject to population control are in five states that allow commercial harvesting – New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, according to a CNN report.
This year, these states have a collective quota that allows about 5 million to be killed, the report said.
According to data from Australia’s Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water, the figure for kangaroo cullings in recent years has been well below the set limits.
Most of the killing is carried out by licensed hunters, often by shining a bright light into the kangaroos’ eyes at night, causing temporary blindness, the report said.
To cull or not to cull?
A section of Australians believes that controlling the kangaroo population is imperative to protect other species, and supports it as an ecological and environmental necessity.
“They’re wonderful animals. They are a national icon… but these government conservation programs are in place to ensure a better outcome for their well-being and health,” said Dennis King, the executive officer of the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia (KIAA).
Rebecca Vassarotti, environment minister for the Australian Capital Territory, reiterated that kangaroo numbers must be controlled to protect other endangered species, according to the report.
“We have mouthless moths, we have earless dragons, and we have legless lizards, and they are very important for the ecosystem. So we do have to undertake the management of those systems and particularly make sure that we maintain a sustainable kangaroo population,” she said.
Activists, on the other hand, argue that Australia’s kangaroos are being killed for their meat and leather.
Mark Pearson, a former member of the New South Wales Parliament representing the Animal Justice Party, said the kangaroo population can be regulated by leaving it to its natural state.
He denounced the government’s culling policy as “very ugly and cruel,” according to the report.
Opponents of the practice have been lobbying “for import bans on kangaroo products” in the US, EU, and Asian countries.
Activists claim that a recent decision by two world-famous apparel and footwear manufacturers to stop using kangaroo leather was because of their lobbying efforts.
The Australian government, meanwhile, is continuing talks with some Asian countries to increase its kangaroo exports.
Kangaroo products are also part of negotiations for an Australia-EU free trade deal, the CNN report said.
The government has also been sending envoys to top US officials and legislators in some states “to convince them of the industry’s sustainability and animal welfare standards,” the report added. (Anadolu)