Greg and Diane Keightley are brave. They wrote this story and sent it to us. The Australian government is working to stop Californians from banning the kangaroo trade. An industry of cruelty and slaughter of innocent kangaroos. This is a graphic story. But these pictures must be shown. The Australian government is acting in secrecy in Sacramento at the State Capitol. They are pushing a story, a narrative, that all is cool and manageable and humane. The slaughter of kangaroos is neither cool, manageable, humane, nor something we should ignore. Why should we? So people can have new soccer cleats and designer hand bags made of kangaroo skin?
What we can learned from the Australian koala
Diane Keightley and Greg Keightley
It was the wisdom of an American President that saved the Australian koala.
In 1927, President Herbert Hoover signed an order permanently prohibiting koala skin importation, and is credited for halting the trade of millions of koala pelts and avoiding their extinction.
In 1971, it was California Governor Ronald Reagan who issued a reprieve to Australia’s declining kangaroo populations being decimated by an aggressive commercial industry looking for world markets hungry for the marsupials’ meat and fur. Now in 2015, it is sad that ordinary Australians again look to our friends in the U.S. for help to protect our unique wildlife.
Kangaroos are at risk of unrecoverable losses and cruelty. The science supports this view. Kangaroos are so often treated inhumanely. With almost 90 million kangaroos and wallabies killed for meat and fur in the last 20 years, a five percent botched death rate means 4.5 million animals who were not killed humanely.
The Australian Government doesn’t know how many. They don’t want you to know how many. We believe it’s closer to forty percent who suffer inhumane deaths.
The kangaroo industry, often bankrolled by the Australian government, gives assurances as evidenced by what the Sacramento Bee published on Monday, September 7, 2015. “Humanely,” he wrote.
We have been exposed to commercial kangaroo ‘harvesting’ for seven years in rural New South Wales, Australia. We live amongst it.
We quickly grew to understand why the kangaroo industry doesn’t want you to know what really happens. We have watched with our own eyes, and it is inherently cruel. Kangaroos are pursued at night for hours by a noisy truck with a very bright light. They are shot at or are standing with others that are being shot, often in family groups. They run, all the while being tormented by the light and the loud gunshots, until the shooter comes across them again. They are shot at again, sometimes hit by a bullet, often in the head but not the brain. Or in the neck or the muzzle, then they run again until they are immobilized but not dead.
The wounded kangaroo often has to wait for the shooter to shoot at other individuals until they come back to finish them off. We have heard them vocalise as the shooter approaches to deliver a final blow to the head. A plea for mercy perhaps?
A solid shiny object is wielded into the kangaroo’s head as she struggles. Joeys are often not killed with their mothers but ripped from her pouch and discarded into the bushes, not even counted as a statistical ‘kill’. We hear them calling for their dead mothers until the sun comes up. We see them in the mornings lost and bewildered. We may see them again the next evening, but usually never again after that. This is considered ‘acceptable collateral damage’.
We often see kangaroos shot on a previous evening who died on our property while escaping the terror of being continually hunted. We see the trails of blood where the kangaroo has had her throat cut. The body is hung on the back of the truck to bleed out. We see the butchering sites where the shooters stop to ‘dress’ the kangaroo. Cutting off heads, tails, legs and forearms before opening the torso to tip out the viscera. Joeys are often left lying amongst the remains of what was their mother, still smelling like their mother, until they die of exposure or predation. The scene is macabre.
The group social structure is ruined. The mob is in disarray. The fields smell of death.
Such an integral part of the biodiversity of the Australian rangelands — hunted down, killed and then butchered in a dirty, dusty truck bed. The skin manufactured into soccer cleats, expensive shoes and gloves, or sold as key-rings to tourists.
The kangaroo is a gentle animal. The commercial hunting is relentless, mostly brutal and often barbaric. The industry is ruthless and no longer believes its own spin. We have lived it. It has to stop.
It is very sad that Australia needs California legislators to protect what our Government is so eager to exploit for the reward of a chosen few. Our hope is that lawmakers this week take a stand.
Diane and Greg Keightly have been exposed to the commercial kangaroo industry since 2007 after purchasing 500 acres of land to conserve within a rural area in western New South Wales, Australia where three species of kangaroos exist. Commercial ‘harvesting’ by the kangaroo industry occurs along 3 kms of one side of their property. GKEIGHTLEY@stdominics.nsw.edu.au