175 Million kangaroos to support vicious trade

The following article was initially written by Tigerquoll entitled ‘175,000,000 Kangaroos Required to Support a Vicious Immoral Trade‘ and published on CanDoBetter.net 20100517.


Some claim kangaroo meat is ‘green’. Some even claim killing kangaroos is ‘better’ for Australia’s environment.

So what if Australian farmers of lamb, beef, pork and chicken transitioned to kangaroo?  To this author it is like employing mass murderer Ivan Milat to skin platypus for cheap token tourist purses.

Personal bias aside, Australia’s Federal Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry, has highlighted the flawed presumptions of Australia’s roo trade as unviable.

The following extracts are taken from Sydney Morning Herald’s Jacob Saulwick in his article ‘Henry doubts viability of roo harvesting’ of 13-Mar-10 (reproduced below):

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“If we’re lucky, it will be many decades before we know whether these judgments are well based,” Dr Henry said of commercial kangaroo harvest quotas in December… “If they are, this will turn out to be the first instance in human history of the sustainable plunder of a natural resource.”

Dr Henry is at odds with prominent ecologists, as well as the economist Ross Garnaut. Professor Garnaut’s 2008 climate-change review made the case for an increased diet of roo displacing cattle and sheep consumption. The Garnaut report cited a study by George Wilson and Melanie Edwards that predicted a 3 per cent drop in greenhouse emissions if roo numbers rose from 25 million to 175 million, pushing cattle and sheep of rangelands, and displacing some red meat consumption.

Critics on the Henry side question the numbers, unconvinced kangaroo meat could ever replace red meat consumption in Australia to any significant degree.

“A lot of the environmental movement supports eating kangaroos, because people think it is green,” said Daniel Ramp, a biologist at the University of NSW helping set up a think tank on the roo industry with the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney.

“But we need to follow that argument through and ask how many sheep or cattle we could displace with meat from a kangaroo.”

On Dr Ramp’s figures, if every Australian were to start eating roo regularly, its population would need to swell from about 25 million well into the hundreds of millions and possibly billions.

Industry estimates put the average amount of meat derived from a single roo at 12 kilograms. If a 12-kilogram meat yield provides 48 people with one 250 gram meal, 24 million roos would be needed for everyone in Australia to have one meal a week.

But quotas prevent the industry harvesting more than 15 per cent of the roo population a year, making a population above 160 million necessary. Providing fillets would require many more roos, while maintaining the existing amount of meat that is used for pet-food could push the required population into the billions.

“Imagine if we had 175 million kangaroos running about?” said Dr Ramp. “The environmental degradation would potentially be large and it would not be safe to drive on rural roads for the sheer number of kangaroos.”

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Standard roo shooter myths need to be debunked such as the false claims that ‘kangaroo meat is ‘green’, better for the environment and could replace farmed livestock outright.

  • The ethics of killing wildlife still has not been justified by roo shooters.
  • The ethics of the means of killing kangaroos and their joeys still has not been justified by roo shooters.
  • The ethics of encouraging a wildlife export trade in kangaroo meat by Anna Bligh to Russia says a lot about Anna Bligh.
  • The inherent risk of using kangaroo meat for human consumption still has not been justified by roo shooters.
  • The lack of effective government controls associated with kangaroo killing continues to be ignored by state and federal governments.

 

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Red Meat Consumption

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The debate over whether we should reduce our consumption of meat is warranted, both from an ethical standpoint and an environmental one. If farmers were paid a decent kilogram price for traditional livestock that factored in the cost of land management and rehabilitation on downgraded farmland, the consumption would reduce as it would become unaffordable to most.

The first step is to make livestock (read ‘meat’ – beef, lamb) a gourmet food – high quality and high price – say $40/kg like fillet steak. Market forces would then reduce the demand. Livestock farmers would need to transition to other more sustainable industries (with government subsidy). The primary industry outcome would see a fraction of the current land being used for red meat production. It would be organic, grass feed/ free range, humane and profitable – but government restricted like the abalone industry.

The other strategy is to develop sustainable alternatives that offer natural nutritional equivalents – heam iron, protein, selenium (antioxidant) , zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D and B-group vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and in particular vitamin B12).

“But Vitamin B12 cannot be found in plant foods, therefore inadequate intakes of B12 are a problem for strict vegetarians. Lacking vitamin B12 can adversely affect neurological function including memory and concentration.”   [Meat and Livestock Australia website]

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Further Reading:

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[1]  ‘Henry doubts viability of roo harvesting’

[Source: ‘Henry doubts viability of roo harvesting’, by Jacob Saulwick, Sydney Morning Herald, 20100313, ^http://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/henry-doubts-viability-of-roo-harvesting-20100312-q46c.html]

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‘Eating kangaroo meat is, by all accounts, much better for the environment than dining on pork, lamb or beef. The natives emit negligible methane, tread lightly and without contributing to erosion, and have no need for vast quantities of feed intensively farmed elsewhere.

Then why is the Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry, ardent conservationist, flashing warning signs about the country’s $250 million roo industry?

Twice in the past six months he has highlighted concerns about kangaroo harvesting in his public speeches. And the issue he raised was not the animal welfare charge most commonly levelled – joeys are killed by a blow to the head – but whether the harvesting of roos is viable.

“If we’re lucky, it will be many decades before we know whether these judgments are well based,” Dr Henry said of commercial kangaroo harvest quotas in December.

“If they are, this will turn out to be the first instance in human history of the sustainable plunder of a natural resource.”

Dr Henry is at odds with prominent ecologists, as well as the economist Ross Garnaut. Professor Garnaut’s 2008 climate-change review made the case for an increased diet of roo displacing cattle and sheep consumption.   The Garnaut report cited a study by George Wilson and Melanie Edwards that predicted a 3 per cent drop in greenhouse emissions if roo numbers rose from 25 million to 175 million, pushing cattle and sheep off rangelands, and displacing some red meat consumption. Critics on the Henry side question the numbers, unconvinced kangaroo meat could ever replace red meat consumption in Australia to any significant degree.

“A lot of the environmental movement supports eating kangaroos, because people think it is green,” said Daniel Ramp, a biologist at the University of NSW helping set up a think tank on the roo industry with the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney.

“But we need to follow that argument through and ask how many sheep or cattle we could displace with meat from a kangaroo.”

On Dr Ramp’s figures, if every Australian were to start eating roo regularly, its population would need to swell from about 25 million well into the hundreds of millions and possibly billions.

Industry estimates put the average amount of meat derived from a single roo at 12 kilograms. If a 12-kilogram meat yield provides 48 people with one 250 gram meal, 24 million roos would be needed for everyone in Australia to have one meal a week.  But quotas prevent the industry harvesting more than 15 per cent of the roo population a year, making a population above 160 million necessary. Providing fillets would require many more roos, while maintaining the existing amount of meat that is used for pet-food could push the required population into the billions.

“Imagine if we had 175 million kangaroos running about?” said Dr Ramp. “The environmental degradation would potentially be large and it would not be safe to drive on rural roads for the sheer number of kangaroos.”

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