Passion around a kangaroo
Despite high-profile protests by wildlife advocates, the Australian government raised the quota for kangaroo shooting this year, setting it at 6.9 million animals. The Australian kangaroo meat and leather industry is booming, recently earning $ 128 million a year.
Australia has always had a difficult relationship with its marsupial shrine. She, along with the ostrich Amy, flaunts on the arms of the country, entire generations of children grew up in 1960 and 1970 on the television series about Skippy, like the series Lassie, familiar to Russian viewers. The Australians themselves call themselves “Wallaby”, just like not the largest kangaroos (as New Zealanders call themselves “Kiwi”).
But farmers consider them pests and complain that they eat sheep and poison crops. And drivers in rural areas are forced to stop with sunset on the sidelines before dawn, so as not to run into the swift symbols of the state.
The most surprising thing is that over the past ten years, Australians began to consume marsupial meat for food after the Australian states in the early 1990s lifted the corresponding ban one after another. But there is still no mass sale of kangaroo meat in supermarkets: many Australians are hampered by the thought of eating a Skippy steak (just try to imagine an American ordering in a Lassie restaurant with blood or well-done!) But the famous chefs extol low-fat kenguryatin with the aroma of real game. There is even talk of raising these animals on meat farms.
Meanwhile, the first European immigrants perceived the kangaroo primarily as a game, as the main source of meat. The authorities of the settlements hired hunters and ordered the criminals sent to Australia to shoot the kangaroo to provide the population with food. Farmers shot them as competitors for their sheep. A sporting kangaroo hunt such as the British fox hunt flourished.
And, of course, from time immemorial Aborigines who settled on the continent 40-60 thousand years ago hunted kangaroos. The meat, of course, went into food, clothes, blankets and a container for water were made from skins, and needles were made from bone. Hunted with boomerangs, batons, spears. There are about 500 Aboriginal tribes in Australia, each with its own language, culture, and hunting methods.
And 4000 years ago, new immigrants followed – the wild dingo dogs. For today’s farmers, this is the enemy that destroys their pets. For a kangaroo, this is the enemy eating them, especially where there are few rabbits. The last dingoes clearly prefer kangaroos. And no wonder: it’s much easier to catch a rabbit.
By the way, the correctness of the government assessment of the kangaroo population can be doubted, says David Croft, an expert on these marsupials from the University of New South Wells. Aerial observations have a large approximation, and in fact, a herd can number 60, and only 20 million heads – too much variation to make really scientific decisions on controlling the total population.
This control is the main rationale for authorized shooting. Meanwhile, Croft points out, there is evidence that the shooting only leads to … an increase in livestock. Hunters prefer larger animals, that is, males. Strange as it may seem, a change in the herd’s proportion in favor of the females greatly changes their intimate addictions, as a result of which more cubs appear during the general grinding of animals.
… The moon was in the third quarter, and when it ascended, a light breeze began, from which waves began to spread over the grass as high as half-human in height. “The conditions are far from ideal,” grumbled a professional kangaroo hunter, father of three children, David Burke. Too bright the moon and the rustling of grass made the animals more timid. But despite grunts, by four in the morning, Burke shot 28 kangaroos and a wild boar, earning more than $ 300 a night. Kangaroos are taken by weight – 12 cents per pound.
Even Burke, who annually shoots up to 500 kangaroos, has doubts about current quotas. There were fewer than 20 years ago when he began the hunt, but, says Burke, the animals became smaller. “And I would like to hunt them in five and ten years.”
Wildlife advocates have no doubt, but violent objections. In Britain, they have banned the sale of kangaroos in supermarkets and are fighting for a ban on clothes and shoes made of kangaroo leather (sports shoes are especially popular).
“It’s a cruel, disgusting industry,” Maryland Wilson, one of Australia’s most stubborn defenders, says indignantly. “A kangaroo is a sacred animal. It is a symbol of Australia. But it is a symbol stained with blood.”
Due to constant attacks, the kangaroo industry tries not to attract special attention and constantly emphasizes that the shooting is carried out by humane methods. Animals are allowed to be killed only by a headshot. As a result, only professional hunters with a special license can shoot. But the struggle around him does not subside.