Kangaroo (File photo).InternationalIndiaAfricaMary ManleyWith Australian ecologists worried about El Nino bringing in another disastrous drought this summer, the massive kangaroo population could be left to the same cruel fate as in 2016 and 2017, when the population of kangaroos reached nearly 45 million, about double the population of Australians.Ecologists are warning that Australia’s iconic kangaroo could soon come under a culling campaign after a number of the marsupial starved to death during Australia’s last drought.Authorities are presently growing more concerned that in light of the rising populations, many may starve once again.“The last drought we estimated that 80 or 90% of the kangaroos in some areas died. They are starving to death – going into public toilets and eating toilet paper, or lying on the road starving while their joeys are trying to feed,” ecologist Katherine Moseby told French media.“It keeps the numbers down so that when we do get drought, we don’t get these welfare issues,” she added. “If we saw them as a resource and managed them like that, we wouldn’t get the catastrophic deaths that we see.”According to the Victorian government, the kangaroo also poses a risk to people’s farmlands, property, habitats and also poses a risk to human safety.”Commercial harvesting is strictly regulated and monitored to ensure conservation, animal welfare and health and safety standards are upheld,” said the King’s Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia. “State governments develop unique kangaroo management plans to conserve kangaroos, measure populations, set boundaries for the harvest, outline how it will be regulated and ensure it’s not detrimental to the animals or their ecosystems.”But the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), has argued that the excuse that kangaroos are damaging land is “simply laughable.””To say kangaroos are damaging the land they’ve lived on for 4 million years is simply laughable. Overgrazing by introduced sheep and cattle is the real culprit behind land degradation,” said PETA.
Dennis King, the executive officer for the Kangaroo Industry Association, agrees there could be another kangaroo boom due to recent climate conditions. And according to King, the next population growth could hit 60 million.
“After three years of La Nina right down the east coast, we’ve seen the perfect growth scenario for kangaroos over the next couple of years,” he said. “The breeding cycle really speeds up.”While fertility control and fencing have been used to control Kangaroo populations in the past, the result is often less effective, and less humane than culling and harvesting the kangaroo meat.Moseby adds that an end to culling would be more cruel than its continuation.“Trying to stop the harvest of leather or meat, it’s not going to have any welfare benefit,” she said. “It’s going to make it worse.”