More than 2 million of our nation’s iconic marsupials are killed each year for shoes by some of the most popular brands, and it’s not stopping anytime soon.
Director of international programs at Animal Wellness Action Jennifer Skiff has raised more than $50,000 for her Kangaroos are not Shoes campaign, as part of her 20km Port to Pub swim.
She says Australia is one of the only countries in the world that kills wildlife for commercial gain.
“Whenever wildlife impacts farming, the industry begins to call the animal a pest—but the kangaroos were here before us,” Ms Skiff says.
“Most people in Australia don’t know how joeys are killed— after their mothers have been shot. The Australian government says the best way to kill the baby is to bash them over the head or decapitate them.”
She says campaigns like these take a lot of work, and her team investigated the killing practices for a whole year to ensure they knew exactly what they were fighting for.
Owner of the Kangaroo Haven in Kununurra Mandy Watson says at this rate we may experience an extinction in the next 50 to 100 years.
“If people knew the truth about where their money is going, they wouldn’t be wearing their Nikes anymore—people need to educate themselves,” she says.
“Most of the ones I rescue have been saved from Aboriginal hunters, however, a large amount of have been found after escaping commercial harvesters.”
Post-doctoral researcher in wildlife management at Murdoch University Stuart Dawson says kangaroos from a well-regulated commercial harvest have the potential to provide a lot of income to rural areas, and provide some control of their population.
“We have been commercially harvesting kangaroos in Australia for the last 30 years. The leather itself is one of the toughest leathers by weight on earth,” Dr Dawson says.
He says they are one of the most common groups of species in Australia due to modern agricultural practices such as water availability from troughs and the productive grasses that we plant.