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2024: Commercial exploitation of Kangaroos, summary table and comparisons

Life on land

“The 2024 population estimates and quotas for commercially exploited Kangaroo species on mainland Australia are slightly lower than in 2023. Our estimates show that for 2023, 27 per cent of the quota will be met”. Peter Hylands

Peter and Andrea Hylands

January 19, 2024

This analysis updates the 2022 numbers, estimates the outcome for 2023 and provides comparisons for 2020 to 2024. This table should be used with the 2024 state based analysis of the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos available in the Earth section of the Nature Knowledge Channel.

Note: Excludes Tasmania / Excludes joeys / Estimates *

Note: Percentage of actual take increases mainly because the quota is lower in a given year. For example, the 2021 quota for Australia was 1,524,085 lower than the quota in 2020. What was particularly shocking was that for the quota alone, the reduction in the quota between those years was higher than the actual annual take in each year.

The graph below tells a very clear story. Despite the addition of Victoria as 7 new commercial shooting zones at the end of 2019, despite commercial shooting zone expansions in New South Wales creeping ever eastwards, despite zone expansions in South Australia, despite adding new Macropod species to the commercial list, despite killing more and more females (and their unaccounted for joeys), despite commercial shooting creeping into public land, the actual commercial take against quota still remains at historically low levels.

The historic data very clearly shows that Kangaroo populations across Australia began to collapse in the early part of this century, in the mid 1990s the actual commercial take was around 3.3 million animals, now it is down to around 1.3 million, while commercial quotas have remained at similar levels over time (that is since the late 1980s, quotas were lower before that).

(NOTE: Actual take against quota 1994 – 3,293,227 / 1995 –3,260,448 / 1996 – 3,101,123).

Despite claims from the state governments and shooters engaged in this wildlife trade that the shortfall in quota is a demand side issue, the reason for the low take against quota is simply because population estimates are hyper-inflated and the Kangaroos they are targeting do not exist. This has never been a demand side issue. Ask yourself this question, if it was the case that Kangaroo carcasses were getting harder to sell (most for pet food), why the constant demand for zone expansions and all the other add ons detailed above, and why now try to enter public lands to take the Kangaroos that remain in State and National Parks, Ramsar sites and other public places for commercial gain? (Victoria and South Australia have agreed to allow commercial Kangaroo shooting on public land).

Australia:  Commercial quota and actual take against quota

Australia:  Commercial quota and actual take against quota
Note: Excludes Tasmania/excludes joeys.

Commercial exploitation of Kangaroos: Update as of 15 June 2024 from actuals now received from Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales from 2023

The purpose of this update is to check to see what actually happened in 2023. From the actual information we now have, the full year estimates made by the Nature Knowledge Channel were very accurate with the difference to date being that 1,359 more Kangaroos were killed in 2023 than we had forecast.

Points to note: The actuals show the percentage of females killed for commercial gain was down in those states that had reported actuals at the time of writing and in the range of 20 to 25 per cent depending, on species. Carcass weight and costs were probably the drivers in lowering demand for females.


Actual number killed in 2023 was 597,750 against Nature Knowledge Channel’s full year forecast of 607,000, just 27 per cent of quota against our forecast of 28 per cent.

The commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in Queensland is predominantly for meat products used for pet food. The majority of Kangaroo skins utilised for leather and fur products are sourced from meat processors. In 2023, no Kangaroos were reported as exploited commercially for their skins only.

From their own government data Kangaroo populations in Queensland had declined from 37,574,300 in 2001 to 12,959,400 in 2021, yet the Queensland Government says the same thing every year:  

“Whilst no consistent declines have been observed, the Kangaroo populations in Queensland have fluctuated over time”.

Points to note: Beginning in 2023 the environment department began a collaborative research project with Deakin University to investigate lead alternative projectiles for use by the macropod industry. Lead is a toxic and persistent heavy metal that can be particularly hazardous to scavenging animals. Awareness of this issue is increasing across Australia with the use of lead projectiles for harvesting meat for human consumption and pest control is now a global issue.

New South Wales

Actual number killed in 2023 was 509,671 against Nature Knowledge Channel’s full year forecast of 498,000, just 27 per cent of quota as forecast.

Points to note: The 2023 commercial kill was higher than that reported for the previous year, in absolute terms. The total number of Kangaroos killed for commercial gain in 2022 was 402,719, 24 per cent of the 2022 quota. The increased kill in 2023 is attributed to improved access to properties. Demand for Kangaroos was also variable throughout the year, with a range of factors affecting the Kangaroo meat 'industry' – limited cold storage space, high cost of energy (impacting processing costs), high cost of fuel (impacting transport costs), and reduced export demand. The greenhouse costs of this toxic trade in the state are also very high.

Western Australia

Actual number killed in 2023 was 81,938 against Nature Knowledge Channel’s full year forecast of 83,000, just 25 per cent of quota as forecast.

Points to note: Western Australia experienced a notably hot, dry year in 2023 with many areas across the Kangaroo population management zones (PMZs) recording their driest year on record.

South Australia and Victoria

These states, as of mid-June 2024 had not reported their full year actuals for 2023. By reputation, when it comes to Kangaroos, these are the ‘spin’ states. In trying to get answers in Victoria I have been passed from one department to another, to another etc, and after weeks of trying, still no answer. No one is accountable, no one is responsible. Meanwhile the killing continues.

“Participants requested improved transparency in reporting processes”. Victorian Government consultation Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan (KHMP) 2021-2023