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Australian Environmental Issues

Blue-tongue
A true-blue battler

Box jellyfish
How to avoid the stings and what to do if stung

Crocodile
So you wrestle crocs...

Dingo
Unfairly judged in killing off the thylacine?

Echidna
The wise little gnomes of Australia

Emu
Victors of the great Emu war

Flies
Shaping everything from how Australians speak to how they salute

Funnel Web spider
Yyou'll never leave your ugg boots outside

Kangaroo
Most herbivores don't grow a spine until they are the size of an elephant. Not so the roo.

Snakes
Kill less people than cows

Shark attack Australia
How to ensure you don't go by the name of Bob

Tasmanian Devil
The solution to mainland extinctions?

Tasmanian Tiger
A sad tale

Wombat
Keg of muscle

Quoll
The mainland's largest marsupial carnevore

Mythical creatures
Yowies and dropbears; some say they are myths but those who are not afraid to talk have shared their stories

 

 

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Kangaroo and baby

The Kangaroo Industry

Should we eat skippy?

In pre-colonial times, the kangaroo was a staple of the Aboriginal diet. In the colonial era, it was considered a poor substitute for beef and lamb. Today; however, there is little market for the consumption of roos. Some people have proposed that this should change because kangaroos are more environmentally friendly than cows and sheep. Because the Roo has padded feet and leaves enough of the grass to ensure it survives tough conditions, it is less likely to cause land degradation.

One of the deficiencies of kangaroos is that they are virtually impossible to farm in an economic way. Unlike sheep and cows, roos jump fences and won't herd nicely to an abattoir or to a different paddock. If a mob of roos is scared, individuals run in different directions. Furthermore, if they are caged, they lose up to 30% of their meat.

Tim Flannery proposes Australians eat kangaroos

Because they are almost impossible to farm, all roo meat sold in supermarkets is from wild stock that has been shot. In 2013, this was in excess of 2 million kangaroos. To ensure sustainability of the population, shooters were not allowed to kill in excess of 40 per cent of the roos in one area.

The harvesting of wild animals brings additional barriers to market acceptance. One problem is fear of food poisoning. In the 1990s, large supermarket chains withdrew kangaroo meat for human consumption after a scare that a bush-shot carcass was at greater risk of spoiling than animals killed in an abattoir. Not only was there a risk of the carcass spoiling in the heat, but it was impractical to impose an abattoir Code of Practice requiring protection from dust, flying and crawling insects. The supermarkets did; however, keep selling roo meat for dog food where fear of food poisoning was not so great.

Another problem with wild harvesting is that the females shot can potentially have three babies depending on her. One is semi-adult discovering life outside the pouch, learning to eat grass, but still feeding off the mother. The second is an infant curiously watching what goes on from the safety of the mother's pouch. The third is an embryo the size of a thumbnail awaiting signals to be born. While general farming is confronting to the average sensibilities, it can be tolerated. Killing mothers and letting their babies die slowly of the next few days is just a bridge too far for many.

Only targeting the big males and sparring the females is also problematic because it removes the strongest breeding stock from a wild mob.

A final problem is that roo meat is very low in fat. Therefore, it is extremely dry when well cooked. As a consequence, it is recommended that it is eaten in a virtually raw state but considering the way the animal is harvested, it is one of the riskiest meats to eat raw. In any case, it just doesn’t taste very good.

Even if Australians don’t eat kangaroos, they will continue to be shot as they are competitors for cows and sheep on agricultural land. Farmers will therefore always want them killed. The question is essentially whether the kangaroo meat gets used for pet food or human consumption.

 

More info

The NSW Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES)

Media information on the roo industry

Conservation links

 

Invasive ferals

Carp

Carp and Trout
A tale of two ferals

New hope for Cane Toads
The many unknown predators of the toad

Rabbits
A fence almost 2,000 km long to keep rabbits out of WA? Sounds like a great idea! If it doesn't work, we'll build another one!

The Willow
How a change in its status from asset to weed led to fish kills with blackwater and blue-green algae outbreaks

To bait dingos?
Should the health of the ecosystem be considered or just the kennel club registration?

Koala control
What to do about the "koala plague" on Kangaroo Island

Cat
Apex predator in Australia. Confined to urban areas in America.

Environmental values

Environmental problems
How money and ideology shapes environmental "science."

Bushfire
Australia's Stockholm Syndrome with gum trees.

The Kangaroo industry
Should we eat skippy?

Climate change in Australia
Australia was once covered in rainforest. Could it be again?

Sustainability
The dark side of sustainable environmental policies

Native pets
Why no pet wombats?

 

 

       

Australian environmental science is defined by an ideology that is not unlike a prison warden. There, the scientists are not seeing themselves as part of the ecosystem, but as masters over it; protecting the rights of the species that they say have rights and killing those that they say do not…but inevitably killing both.

"It was always seen as desirable to remove or cull the introduced species. We also need to ask whether it was possible to do so, how it should be done, whether it could have unintended consequences and what it would cost? I don't think anyone really asked those questions." Physicist John Reid - 2012