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The Pangolin and the Kangaroo

Life on land

“The Cambrian explosion half a billion years ago was a burst of evolution unprecedented in the history of life and has never been repeated since”. Richard Leakey

Peter Hylands, Andrea Hylands

May 21, 2023

So we go on, year after year, decade after decade, talking about Pangolins and Kangaroos, we know what is happening and what in the end it will mean for us. Instead of things changing to something better, they grow ever more extreme and merciless.


In the scales of a Pangolin lies our own future. Watching the footage of a Pangolin, every single scale ripped from its body, dazed and walking along in the live animal market in Wuhan, this is suffering beyond understanding.

Watching the cruelty in Australia as an equally dangerous and cruel trade, the mass killing of Kangaroos, continues at pace despite the recent and catastrophic loss of wildlife. It is here and as the ferocious fires rage, a young Kangaroo is ripped from its mother’s pouch, its brains then beaten out on the nearest fence post, its trembling little body thrown in the dust to die. The mother’s entrails spill to the ground as she is butchered in the dirt. This goes on and on and on in the filth, the flies, the sweat and the heat of the night.

Joey Kangaroos face terrible acts of cruelty

So what are we in all of this?

Our journey in the last few weeks take us from Central Australia, through the endless fire grounds of New South Wales and Victoria, and then back to the centre of Australia again. It is easy to be gloomy when we have witnessed so much horror and so much grotesque cruelty. So let’s linger in Australia for a moment. So what is the response to the disasters, the fires and floods of climate change, really what is the response?

Cobargo, New South Wales

Under the cover of disaster

So when you analyse it closely, nothing actually changes, just the things that should not be happening are being accelerated, exploitation, to take advantage of the situation that is now occurring. The list of these things is long and you will know at least some of them. And with these things comes an even more rapid change in the climate. So the cycle of disaster spins ever faster.

“This is the face of humanity”

Human health

If we destroy the environment in such a way that there is no possible chance of recovery (in a human species time horizon), if we treat animals in the vilest of ways and without respect, keeping them in filth and squalor, if we destroy species and habitats, you do not have to be a genius to understand the result. We are creating the conditions for new diseases and viruses that jump species.

So we already know the results for human health and society of these things. Once more, we say the same thing over and over again, for decade after decade. But humans do not stop the self-destruction, no matter how bad it gets.

Nothing changes.

Landing image of the Pangolin, Getty iStock.