Kangaroo Meat - an Ecological Solution or Disaster?
You may have heard that eating kangaroo meat is the best option for the environment; after all kangaroos aren't farmed, they are shot in the wild in their own environment and, as they are native animals, they don't cause any negative impact for planet earth like raising other animals for their meat does. In theory it sounds wonderful. In reality it doesn't stack up.
First and foremost, industry estimates put the average amount of meat derived from a single roo at around 12 kilograms, enough to provide 48 people with one 250 gram meal. This means that 24 million roos would be needed to be killed each year for everyone in Australia to have a kangaroo steak once a week. If everyone in Australia were to eat a kangaroo steak twice a week for a year, there would be no kangaroos left! That isn't taking into account if the world's population got the taste for them!
Secondly, while it is better they get to roam free and not be farmed, it could also be a major issue if we make them a staple in our diet because kangaroos cannot be farmed. When they are kept in captivity they develop a disease called stress myopathy, which leads to their death. Kangaroos also have the magnificent ability to choose whether they allow their foetus to grow and if they are stressed, they simply will not continue to produce offspring.
These two issues alone make it obvious it is not an environmental solution to eat kangaroo. After all risking a wildlife's population isn't environmentally friendly...
On a health point the kangaroo meat has been found to have extremely high amounts of salmonella and e-coli because kangaroos are killed and eviscerated in the dusty Australian outback and then driven around on the back of a truck, to be kept in chiller boxes for up to two weeks until finally driving up to 3 days to the processing plant and only then is it packed for the supermarket! These unhygienic results saw Russia, who used to take 70% of the kangaroo meat, discontinue importation.
Some may argue there is no risk of them becoming endangered because there are so many of them in the wild; but this argument has been used throughout history, and again and again we have seen abundant species being hunted down for their meat or fur in high numbers only to get to the point of endangerment or discrimination.
We can see this risk for our kangaroos happening now, although it isn't spoken about in the media. Even a few years ago the kangaroo population dropped by almost HALF!
In Australia we currently kill 3-4 million kangaroos per year.
This is the largest wildlife slaughter in the world; being done by the country with the highest amount of extinctions in our short history...
As the larger kangaroos bring in the most meat and therefore the most money, the alpha males are targeted. Commercial shooters are also now focusing on male's in an attempt to avoid the collateral damage of the 400,000 joeys that are smashed to death after being ripped from their dead mothers pouches - which is an issue for numerous international countries, but for some strange reason not Australia.
Kangaroo mobs have social structures where the males spend their lives learning to fight other males, working their way to become the "alpha" because, lucky things, they get to impregnate all the females. This has worked for millions of years, ensuring kangaroos get the strongest genes possible, keeping them as the large, abundant species we see bounding across our harsh red deserts and surviving through droughts and floods.
If we kill all the alpha males again and again consistently, as we are, it totally messes up the mob structure AND means the females are giving birth to smaller and weaker joey's. This is already being seen in the ecology of the kangaroo populations. It may not raise alarm bells immediately, however it will show as less are able to survive droughts, or if they become exposed to illnesses, as has happened many times in the past.
We are weakening one of the most stunning, large mammals on this planet - our iconic kangaroo that is recognised and loved across the globe.
So I ask this, if you choose to eat kangaroo, is it worth risking this amazing wild animal? Spend some time reading up about the risks that aren't published in the very biased, pro-agriculture press. I know many people who choose to eat kangaroo do so because they believe they are doing a good thing, but dig a little deeper and see what a minefield you will find behind the "greenwashing" that is a very powerful advertising campaign being used by the industry...
The below links are wonderful places to start: