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An Australian Society for Kangaroos initiative - www.saveajoey.org.au
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Silent Victims of an Australian Industry: Kangaroo Joeys

“The Shot to the head out of the darkness that the industry and its supporters promote as clean, green and humane; every night leaves behind abandoned young at foot quietly coughing in an attempt to unite with their mothers- but nobody hears.” (Ingrid Witte, 2005)

In the last decade alone around 35 million kangaroos and their joeys have been killed for their meat and skins by the so-called “kangaroo industry” in Australia. This equates to around three million joeys bashed to death, decapitated, shot or left to die as a by product of this industry.

Kangaroo joeys are not included in the annual quota for the commercial kangaroo industry, despite the legislation stating otherwise. Kangaroos and their young are fully protected by law in Australia however the industry seems immune to such legislation and the young remain unaccounted for in this cruel business.

According to state government records at least 100,000 female kangaroos are still being slaughtered annually for profit by the Australian kangaroo industry and hundreds of thousands more are killed by farmers and governments. This results in the cruel death of hundreds of thousands of joeys every year at the hands of the kangaroo meat and skins industry, governments and farmers. According to the National Code of Practice for the Humane Killing of Kangaroos, pouched joeys are decapitated, bludgeoned or shot, depending on their size. At-foot young are to be shot, but are invariably orphaned when separated from their mother during shooting.

RSPCA Australia in their 2002 Report, expressed significant concern for the fate of kangaroo joeys killed by the industry and landholders however their slaughter continues unabated.

The RSPCA report states:

“In general, the use of a heavy blow to the head is not considered a humane method of euthanasia for most species”.

“There is also some question over the appropriateness of the techniques recommended for killing pouch young. Without specific research into methods of killing pouch young it is difficult to make assumptions over the relative humaneness of these methods compared to alternatives.”

"One of the major animal welfare issues arising from the shooting of kangaroos, whether by commercial or non-commercial shooters, is the fate of dependant pouch young and dependant joeys at foot”

“It is not known what the average survival rate of abandoned joeys is, however a proportion of kangaroos orphaned through shooting will die of starvation, exposure or predation in the days and weeks following the loss of their mother”.

“RSPCA Australia believes that the only solution which would avoid the potential cruelty to pouch young would be to avoid shooting females altogether. In the short term, the Code of Practice and the appropriate license should contain a condition that no female kangaroos carrying large pouch young should be shot”.

However according to current government data female kangaroos continue to be targeted by the kangaroo industry. Dr Ingrid Writte, in her PhD thesis wrote:

"One of the most important lessons I have learned as a behavioral ecologist during the progression of my studies and my observations of wild animals, and my experience raising orphans, was the length and depth of dependency that young kangaroos have on their mothers, their caregivers. For kangaroos, maternal care is most certainly not restricted to life in the pouch but continues well into the juvenile phase of these animals, the time we refer to as the 'young at foot' stage. Even past the weaning and young at foot stage, juveniles still frequently accompany their mothers, a behaviour that may be vital for their survival to sexual maturity through social learning (Higginbottom & Croft 1999). Long term studies of known individuals in populations of eastern grey kangaroos, euros and red necked wallabies have shown that young females tend to set up home ranges around their mothers (Ashworth 1996) and hence never really leave, indicating an even stronger interdependence between these animals than we dared to think before.”

"It is clear that kangaroos are not 'dumb' herbivores, but perfectly and amazingly adapted to their environment, with strategies for survival in the most trying of environments. They are mammals with a high degree of individuality and like all mammals they are highly dependent on their mothers until at least weaning. It is one of the saddest experiences of my life to see how these magnificent but defenseless animals are treated by the kangaroo and pastoral industries and more sad still how their dependent young are treated, with such deliberate callousness and thoughtlessness”. (Ingrid Witte,Bsc.Hons.PhD, UNSW)

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