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For the love of Kangaroos

Life on land

“Why Andrea and I feel such an affinity for Greg and Diane is that we have been on similar journeys and we know that we are just four among many in the same predicament”.

May 21, 2023

While the fires were raging across the Australian continent, a vast number of wild Australian native animals were being killed for commercial purposes for skin and meat, for fun and just for the idea of getting rid of them. Even as the fires raged Kangaroos were in the forefront of this slaughter. In this film Greg and Diane tell you about what is happening to Kangaroos.

Greg Keightley

Kangaroo histories

Why Andrea and I feel such an affinity for Greg and Diane is that we have been on similar journeys and we know that we are just four among many in the same predicament. We lost our conservation property and beautiful early Australian colonial house and buildings, which we had owned for many decades, as we became targets of people, some we did not even know, and some within government who enabled the actions.

As our international lives were so integrated with this property, as by then were our businesses, what was done to us could not have been more disastrous. I won’t go into the details here other than to say that conservation and caring about what is truly Australian is a very dangerous and costly game.

This was our keeping house, an intellectual place of creativity, commerce and research and full of wonderful things collected from around the world. It was also a meeting place for many because that is what we do, bringing people from around the world together. And what better way to do that, than amidst the nature of Australia. What we built over a working lifetime was destroyed in an instant, erasing our past and stealing our future.To this day we do not know the detail of what went on.

This is what Victoria Police (Castlemaine) had to say while looking around the house, immediately after I was assaulted at the edge of our property. It describes the injustice that so many of us receive.

“There is a fine line between shooting and art, some people like shooting and some people like art. There was no assault….You should stay indoors and close your windows”.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Answers of convenience

Responses to questions put to government frequently conflict with the actual evidence, are contradictory between and within states, and typically responses are framed to justify the current behaviours and ideologies, no matter how misleading. Here are examples from different states(these are extracts from correspondence received by me or by colleagues).   

A lot of effort is given to the construction of ideas that convey that these native animals are a nuisance, populations are exploding, can't be rescued or translocated, are humanely treated when they are killed, they destroy biodiversity and, on the list, goes. The numbers scam also continues across the Australian continent and Kangaroos are either diseased or not diseased depending on if they are to be eaten or not.

Even the language and words used to either justify the behaviours or denigrate species are carefully constructed to make it appear that the behaviour is benign and somehow a good thing to be doing. A lot of taxpayer’s money is spent on trying to justify the conduct and to applying meaningless structures and constructs around that attempted justification.

Standards of governance in these matters, particularly relating to compliance, or even trying to gain an understanding of what is occurring, are woeful. Here are some extracts from the correspondence.

New South Wales government responses

April 2020

"I recognise there are concerns forKangaroos. In NSW, Kangaroos are protected under the Biodiversity ConservationAct 2016. Anyone who harms, including kills, injures or captures, or attempts to harm Kangaroos without an appropriate licence is breaking the law. To ensure the humane treatment of Kangaroos, all harvesters and licence holders must comply with the National Codes of Practice for humane shooting of Kangaroos andWallabies.

The commercial harvesting program is following procedures for population thresholds from the NSW Commercial Kangaroo Harvest ManagementPlan 2017-2021. Kangaroo populations are surveyed, and conservative quotas are set to ensure populations remain sustainable.

DPIE will carefully monitor fire and harvesting activity in the commercial management zones. In affected zones, tag sales and harvesting returns will be monitored for variations from previous years. In addition, feedback from licensees will be sought, and this will help in understanding the impact of fire on Kangaroos.

Landholders may apply for a licence to cull kangaroos for reasons including reducing damage to crops and pasture, hazards to vehicles, disease or risk to human health and safety and damage to infrastructure".

Eastern Grey Kangaroo joey after rescue

South Australia: Killing Kangaroos is an essential service

April 2020

Q - Peter Hylands: Given the serious nature of the COVID-19 pandemic how does the South Australian Government justify the continuing trade in wildlife (one of the largest in the world for this group of species) which requires travel across regions in South Australia?

A - SA Department for Environment and Water: Agricultural industries, which includes the commercial Kangaroo industry, and related businesses across the food chain are considered an essential service and may operate as normal with consideration of social distancing and other restrictions.  

Q - Peter Hylands: Given what we understand about the transmission of new viruses and the huge risks to human health from the trade in wildlife, how does the South Australian Government justify the expansion (prey switching) to new species, given the significant health risks to both humans and other species? NOTE there is plenty of evidence in relation to these matters regarding the commercial trade in Macropods and related species.

A - SA Department for Environment and Water: Kangaroos and their products do not pose a threat to human health through viral infections. The risk of a macropod virus transitioning to a human is considered negligible.

Victorian Government responses

August 2018

"I appreciate your concern for Victoria’s Eastern Wallaroo, Red Kangaroo and Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby populations. All Kangaroo species are protected in Victoria under the Wildlife Act 1975 and it is illegal for anyone to take or destroy Kangaroos without authorisation to do so.

Under the Wildlife Act, a person may apply to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) for an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) to control Kangaroos where they are causing damage to biodiversity, to property, pasture or crops, or posing a risk to human health and safety. Non-lethal management options must be considered and attempted, before lethal control is considered. When issuing ATCWs, DELWP only authorises control of the minimum number of Kangaroos needed to mitigate the impact.

The species of macropod most commonly subject to control under ATCW is the Eastern Grey Kangaroo, and to a lesser extent the Western Grey Kangaroo and the Red Kangaroo. As you are aware, in 2017, DELWP conducted a state-wide population survey of these three species. As it was the first of its kind, the survey results were unreliable in some areas of the state, particularly for the Red Kangaroo. The survey will be repeated in late 2018with an increased number of aerial transects in order to improve the reliability of the data, to build on the baseline data from the 2017 survey and improve our understanding of the abundance of Kangaroos across Victoria.

The Eastern Wallaroo and the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby are listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and as such are not subject to control under the ATCW system".

And from June 2017 (this one tries to cover all the bases as to why a Kangaroo cannot be rescued – they can).

"Unfortunately, most non-lethal Kangaroo control methods are inhumane, ineffective at reducing Kangaroo numbers or too costly.Several studies suggest that translocating Kangaroo populations is not an effective or humane solution to Kangaroo problems. Translocation often results in the Kangaroos becoming seriously injured or dying trying to escape capture.Kangaroos may also carry diseases, which could be spread to other populations at the relocation site, and often they attempt to move back to the area they were translocated from".

Government responses to questions end here.

Culture of entitlement

The killing of native Australian wildlife is now so entrenched and the sense of entitlement of governments promoting this behaviour and the individuals carrying it out mean poor standards are applied. Just one example of many is that in Victoria and following an extensive trial (from 2014) to turn Victoria’s Kangaroos into pet food, the Government is not able to explain which species are being killed and consequently in what numbers.

So six years after the commercial Kangaroo trade commenced in Victoria this time around, the following footnote appears in the commercially killed Kangaroo reports for 2020.

“Note: Note that the Western Grey (Kangaroo) figure is considered highly inflated, as the reporting tool only allows ‘harvesters’ to identify Western Greys which is creating user error – enhancements to the reporting tool will be implemented in 2020”.

I am extremely concerned for the Western Grey Kangaroo in Victoria. You can read my analysis of the status of Kangaroo species and their relatives in Victoria post the fires in Kangaroos: A history ignored.

The use of Kangaroo meat for bait in 1080 poisoning

As I write this 1080 poison is being dropped from aircraft in New South Wales and Victoria.

“The meat preferences of foxes are being tested on Western Australia's Burrup Peninsula in the state's far north west. As part of an annual 1080 poison baiting program, a new beef sausage bait is being used instead of the usual Kangaroo. The Burrup Peninsula includes the Murujuga National Park, which is thought to have been an important meeting place for Pilbara Aboriginal groups. It is for cultural reasons that beef, rather than Kangaroo, is being used to lure the foxes, Kangaroos are of cultural, social and spiritual significance to Aboriginal people”. ABC May 2016

Vandalised Kangaroo rock art on the Burrup Peninsula

Even the ancient rock art of the Burrup is not safe from vandalism

Incredibly Kangaroo meat is used as the bait. This lethal concoction is then dropped from helicopters across the landscape. Despite the pretence to the contrary, this practice is an indiscriminate threat to Australian wildlife. So poisoned Kangaroos become the killers of raptors and other Australian carnivores, including mammals and reptiles.

The question here is has the additional funding for wildlife from governments, funding for wildlife ‘recovery’ because of the catastrophic bush fires, been used to extend this practice and the use of Kangaroos as bait meat?

What the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos looks like

Skin game

When you look at the numbers and dollar values for pet food meat and meat for human consumption from Kangaroos it looks as if the real reason that Kangaroos are vanishing from the Australian landscape is because of their skins or fur. The meat harvest tag appears to be a cover for the real game here.

Funding for wildlife

Wildlife funding from governments in Australia is not always (most often) what it appears to be. Here is an example from New South Wales today.

“Environment Minister Matt Kean’s much-hyped million dollar fund for wildlife carers in bushfire-affected regions has been rorted by the government itself, with only 22 per cent of the money being paid to wildlife carers”.

In this case it appears that part of the money has gone to ‘controlling’ wildlife carers rather than providing financially and emotionally stressed wildlife carers assistance, with at least half of the Wildlife CarersBushfire Fund redirected to the Department of Planning, Industry andEnvironment to fund other programs. This again reflects the attitude of entitlement and a complete disregard for the natural world.

The leftovers from a night's Kangaroo shooting

The way conservation of species in Australia works (or doesn’t)

What appears to happen is that Australian native animals are continually pushed towards the brink, with all sorts of hideous claims about why they should be exterminated. Claims, even for animals like Koalas, were that they were overabundant. You will recall that the Victorian Government was suggesting that young Koalas should not be rescued from the fires. A quick rethink there, when the politicians realised this would not look very good on the international stage. None of it looks very good of course.

Australian conservation at work

So when Australian species have made that journey to the brink, many have gone over the edge, they become endangered, and then perhaps, if they are lucky, some attention and belated compassion is directed towards them. By then it is really too late.

So the trick is to stop endangering the native species that still remain and actually look after their habitat instead of ripping it down when every little bit of common sense provides a thousand reasons why the destruction should stop.

Anything goes

We can only wake in fright when we think about what kind of behaviours will occur following the lifting of COVID restrictions.


So for Andrea and I, we survived the humiliation, the bullying and vast scale loss. As for the property we worked so hard to restore, any animals that still remain are now in the recently declared Central Shooting Zone for the commercial Kangaroo industry. So the rape is complete. 


For Greg and Diane, we wish them peace and the justice they deserve to live their lives on their land, free from nuisance, fear, intimidation, the spotlights, the gun fire and the nightly witness of the slaughter around them. 

Our warm thanks Greg and Diane.