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The constant carer

Life on land

“So many months of work to help one animal can be destroyed in an instant if that animal you have come to know so well is shot with a bullet or an arrow”.

July 28, 2023

So we join Helen Round in Central Victoria and I ask her what life is like living with Kangaroos? So in another in the Kangaroo testimonies series Helen talks about her life and her concerns about the events surrounding her own work.

Caring for wildlife

Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in Australia is a 24/7/360 profession. That is why it takes such great dedication and kindness.It is also a stressful life full its anxieties. One of the greatest of those concerns, and it is far greater today, is what happens to the animals after they are released. So many months of work to help one animal can be destroyed in an instant if that animal you have come to know so well is shot with a bullet or an arrow.

What I have always noticed, since first visiting Australia, is just how wonderful individual Australian animals are. Let’s talk about Kangaroos for a moment. Each species is different, the Eastern Grey Kangaroo is a beautiful animal. The young, they are delicate, fragile creatures, live with their mother for about 15 months or more, the animals are constantly touching –the pouch of course – home in the initial months and the food for a long time after that. So loving is a word that would slip easily from my tongue.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

In many ways Eastern Grey Kangaroos, when they are in care, have similar traits to your pet dog. They are very affectionate, they can occasionally be naughty, and they are also pretty smart. So a human friendship with an Eastern Grey Kangaroo has very great similarities to your friendship with your dog. As a long term owner of rural properties in Australia where wildlife has flourished, I know these things well.

Number crunch

Victoria needs to be very careful with its Kangaroo numbers and the case of NSW exploding spreadsheets.

NSW Government website, 8 December 2020. Correction to Wallaroo population estimates and quotas - Northern Tablelands shooting zone:

A recent review of Wallaroo population estimates by theKangaroo Management Program revealed correction factors were not applied to data collected in 2007, 2016 and 2019. However, a correction factor of 1.85 was applied to population estimates reported in population reports 2008, 2017 and2020. So the inconsistent approach to the methodology happened three times in the period between 2007 and 2020. Why is the question?

Cunningly the data provided in the correction does not give the numbers for 2007 and 2016, so it is impossible from the table provided to work out what has happened. Again, why have the NSW Government done this?

Applying the correction factor of 1.85 to the missing years has led to the near doubling of Wallaroo population estimates in the NorthernTablelands shooting zone. So by the time we get to 2019 the original population estimate of 200,900 leaps to 371,665 and the commercial quota (historical now)increases 30,135 to 55,750. In that year they managed to find just 13,994 for their commercial trade in wildlife. So that is just 25 per cent of the new quota.

By the time we get to 2020 this is what happens; original population estimate before correction 160,300, corrected population estimate 296,555. Original quota 24.045, revised quota 44,484, no actual given as it was too early.

2017 was the year in which the lowest number of Wallaroos were killed for commercial purposes in that zone, at 4,967 animals. That is just 13 per cent of the revised quota.

The messaging from the NSW Government is this: However, harvest data for the affected years show that wallaroo harvest has never exceeded 70% of the (original) allocated quota, thus harvest was not limited by this error. 

We know from looking at a vast amount of data that the quota never limits the number of animals killed (quotas are designed to limit take so that the species being targeted survives the mass killing operations), for the simple reason that the population estimates and the resulting quota calculations are far too high.

So it looks as if what has been exposed here, and the outcome is commonplace, is that, as the number of Wallaroos decline in this shooting zone, the population estimates go up, as do the quotas, and the actual percentage take against quotas diminishes. The gap between the population number and the actual population grows year on year. The zone is then closed when there are almost no animals left. This is how we remove our species from the Australian Landscapes. And spinning a line will not save them.

A note on Wallaroos

Wallaroos, unlike Eastern Grey Kangaroos, tend to be solitary animals. The Museum of Australia makes the following observation:"No long term population studies have been undertaken but it appears that the density of populations is governed both by the amount of available shelter and proximity to food and water. Seasonal conditions, competition from other grazing animals, and human predation may reduce populations to less than the apparent carrying capacity of an area”.

The Eastern Wallaroo is listed as endangered in Victoria and will have been very seriously impacted by 2020 bushfires. The pretence is that there are plenty somewhere else.

I suspect they won’t stop the killing until they are all gone.

Helen and Manfred

Our thanks to Manfred Zabinskas and Helen Round, Five Freedoms Animal Rescue and East Trentham Wildlife Shelter