Composed by L. Stacker and V. Wangnet (World League for Protection of Animals Inc.)

Revised 14 April 2013

The slaughter of Australia’s national icon is becoming increasingly controversial, with questions being raised as to whether kangaroos are, in fact, acceptably deemed a ‘pest’. In 2012 the Australian government allowed 5.2 million kangaroos and wallabies to be commercially killed for the meat and skin industry. More were killed for non-commericial purposes, including recreational hunting. In shooting areas, since the beginning of the drought, kangaroo numbers have fallen around 59%, from over 57 million in 2001 to an estimated 23.6 million in 2006.

Due to the remote locations where these shootings of kangaroos take place, there is no effective monitoring of animal welfare. The kangaroo industry Code of Practice states that kangaroos must be shot in the head as a method of humane killing. However there exists no reliable way of monitoring how many kangaroos are actually killed in this way.

Orphaned joeys 

Kangaroos are highly social animals who live in large groups. Mothers and joeys form particularly close bonds. Joeys hold no commercial value to the kangaroo industry and are decapitated if they are very small or killed with a blow to the head. Joeys who are not ‘in pouch’ but still follow their mothers often escape and die from exposure, starvation and predators.

Are kangaroos a ‘pest’ in the Australian environment?

According to a 2011 report by THINKK, the think tank for kangaroos, the notion of kangaroos being costly pests to Australian farmers has been seriously over stated.

Investigations show that, coupled with drought, the slaughter of kangaroos is causing a significant depletion in kangaroo numbers. Recently, commercially hunted species of kangaroos such as the Red kangaroo, Eastern grey, Western grey and wallaroo, were nominated in NSW for listing under the Threatened Species  Legislation.

Facts to consider:

  • In the last 10 years, kangaroo populations have declined by 90% in several zones across  commercial ‘harvest’ regions.
  • Kangaroos only increase by 3-8% each year in good seasons.
  • Every 30 years, kangaroo populations average about 27 million nationally.
  • On average, a female Eastern grey kangaroo can only replaces herself once in her lifetime.


    1. World League for Protection of Animals, ‘Stop the slaughter’, last updated October 2013:
    2.  Rheya Linden, ‘Killing for the Flesh and Skin Trade: Neither Clean & Green, nor Sustainable’ in Maryland Wilson and David B. Croft (eds), Kangaroo Myths and Realities (Australian Wildlife Protection Council, 3rd ed, 2005) 86
    3. Voiceless Animal Protection Institute, ‘Kangaroos’, accessed on 14 April 2013:
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