Do you want kangaroos on your dining table?
Kangaroos are one of the iconic animals in Australia. When talking about animals in Australia, people usually think of kangaroos and koalas. Kangaroo is also a composition of the coat of arms of Australia.
Wild kangaroos by Cazz, via flickr
Australia’s weather condition and vegetation provide suitable habitats for kangaroos and currently density of kangaroo is too high in some places. Overabundant can cause a lot of problems, such as high mortality, poor body condition, low fecundity and high prevalence of disease. Given the impacts on human, too many kangaroos will increase the risk of road accident, kangaroo attack, water contamination and zoonotic diseases.
In order to control kangaroo population, there are varieties of management methods, such as occasional culling and fertility control.
Culling can only be carried out by professional shooters, in accordance with the National Code of Practice for the Human Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies. This year, ACT government published the Nature Conservation (Eastern Grey Kangaroo) Controlled Native Species Management Plan 2017 and the culling program for 2017 has been completed now. 2,592 eastern grey kangaroos are shot in this program.
Although this method effectively reduces population size of kangaroos, it also has some ethical problems. There are some opposite opinions from animal welfare concerned organizations, such as Animals Australia. As some natural reserves are involved in culling program, it is indeed not appropriate to kill wildlife in these areas.
DEWLP always suggests that managers should consider non-lethal methods first for wildlife management. Lethal methods should be considered only when non-lethal methods are not effective enough. Fertility control method provides a non-lethal approach to control kangaroo population. Drugs are implanted into female kangaroos to reduce their fertility. Researches about efficiency of different drugs have been conducted, such as deslorelin and levonorgestrel. A major challenge for this method is that contraceptive effect lasts only a few years and female kangaroos need to be re-treated, which may be difficult for free-rage kangaroos.
Where do culled kangaroos go?
Kangaroo meat are collected for producing pet food in some part of Australia. Victoria government starts a pet food trial in 2014 to use kangaroo meat from authorized culling program. There are 12 LGAs in North East and Western Victoria initially involved in the trial area and 4 other LGAs in Western Victoria are added in September 2016. This trial is supported by landowners and meat industries due to less negative impacts on the environment, more profit and job opportunities.
Kangaroos are also harvested in commercial harvesting areas for human consumption. Since 1993, kangaroo meat appears on restaurant menus and daily dining table more frequently. And now it’s also sold in local supermarkets. Eating kangaroo meat not only helps to control kangaroo population, but also benefit for human health. Researches point out that kangaroo meat has low cholesterol, and low fat as well, 40% of which is good polyunsaturated fat.
Screenshot of kangaroo products on Woolworth website
Despite ethical problem of eating kangaroo meat, the taste of kangaroo meat may also need to be improved. I tried a kangaroo meat burger once in the night market last year. It tasted no bad but not so good as beef. Some friends say that if cooked well, kangaroo meat can be very delicious but actually I don’t want to try a second time. If you want to cook kangaroo meat for delicious dishes by yourself, there are many recipes on the internet that you can refer to.