Grim footage highlights plight of starving kangaroos

A mini-documentary put together by a small group of Australia’s most respected ecologists has laid bare the facts about the devastating effects of kangaroo over-population in Australia. Confronting images show some of the thousands of kangaroos suffering slow and agonising deaths in drought-stricken regions.

The stark scenes are part of Australia’s Hidden Shame: The True Roo Story, a work involving South Australia-based husband and wife conservationists Dr John Read and Dr Katherine Moseby. Their harrowing disclosures are given further credence by the observations of Dr David Paton, Associate Professor of the University of Adelaide along with Mark Koolmatrie, Chairperson of the Southern Tribes of South Australia.

Clocking in at just under five minutes, the piece is short but there’s no hiding from its intent. It even carries the warning: “Some viewers may find the following scenes distressing.” The evidence destroys claims by ill-informed protagonists and supposed do-gooders that kangaroos are in danger of being wiped out as they’re being randomly targeted by hunters in the wild or victims of the whims of farmers.

On the contrary, this film shows what happens when humanity fails to interact with the environment. It claims that sustainable management of game is critical to the welfare of Australian wildlife and the long-term distress of the animals can only be ended via culling and the use of kangaroo meat as a mainstream food source.

An early warning is sent out by Dr Read about the “untruths being perpetuated about kangaroos being on the verge of extinction” and “the smell of death” lingering across the desert wasteland, with kangaroos in the film shown as being so weak through hunger they’re unable to stand. Some animals have rib cages and other bones protruding from their skin - it makes for a harrowing presentation.

The film cites figures which estimate Australia’s kangaroo number at about 45 million - roughly double the human population. Meanwhile Dr Paton weighs into the debate by claiming we’re losing our biodiversity as a consequence of failing to take adequate action on kangaroos. The crucial point raised is this is no knee-jerk reaction to drought but a matter of culling as long-term sustainability.

The SSAA has long contended kangaroo meat is a food source full of protein and goodness that has remained largely untapped. But the meat needs to be harvested while kangaroos are in good health. Dr Moseby highlights this, saying: “It is ethical, free-range and organic and if you cook the meat the right way it tastes amazing.”

Mr Koolamatrie says it’s with great sadness his fellow native people have to see vast swathes of kangaroos in such a distressed state. He talks of the kangaroo as a food source and at the same time an emblem. “People say poor little Skippy but we have to look after poor little Skippy because if we don’t . . . he’s going to be skinny, hungry and starving,” he said.

The pro-culling agenda is driven home against a backdrop which may leave some viewers with a sense of disquiet. But sometimes the truth really can hurt.

●The video, produced by Ninti Media, can be viewed here.

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