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Kangaroos are highly persecuted in Australia. They are supposedly protected as a native species, but they are ‘culled’ by local governments, farmers and landowners. They are shot by recreational hunters. They suffer deaths on our roads and homelessness and starvation from peri-urban development

Kangaroo crisis

But did you know the greatest existential threat to kangaroos is the commercial kangaroo industry?

This is a profit-driven program overseen by the government, which Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley signs off on. This program sells their skins to some of the largest corporations in the world, like NIKE, and their bodies for petfood meat.

With the thirst for profit driving an unrelenting killing spree, the commercial kangaroo industry has made kangaroos the victims of the largest slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet.

In 2021 in NSW alone, commercial shooters killed over 40,000 kangaroos per month. This figure does not include joeys, because the industry does not count them. When commercial shooters kill a mother, her shocked joey is pulled out of her pouch and either stomped or bludgeoned to death.

Kangaroos are not like rabbits. They are slow breeders. They have a long gestation period and a long infancy – even once they’re out of the pouch, joeys stay with their mothers for years.

Therefore, kangaroo populations can’t ‘regenerate’ at the rate they’re being shot for the commercial industry: it is unsustainable.

As one of the largest buyers of kangaroo leather, NIKE is driving this inhumane massacre.

And, as one of the most popular brands on Earth, NIKE has the power to set an example and shut it down.

We also call on Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley to put a stop to the industry. Kangaroos deserve better.

Tell NIKE to leave them alone. #nikekangaroomassacre

 

FAQ

Industry propaganda: pests and plagues

Did you know it takes 50 adult kangaroos to eat the same amount as one cow? And, unlike cows or sheep, kangaroos don't rip plants out at the roots – leaving eroded dustbowls in their wake – because kangaroos are nibblers.

Native animals should never be categorised as pests. The idea of kangaroos as "pests" and "plagues" is profit-driven propaganda from farmers and commercial hunters. Kangaroos have been here for millions of years – they were megafaunaThey don't harm the environment; they are the environment.

Kangaroos are not like rabbits. They are slow breeders. They have a long gestation period and a long infancy – even once they’re out of the pouch, joeys stay with their mothers for years. They are not out there breeding themselves into plagues.

We hear about plague numbers of kangaroos all the time – strangely, we only hear it from people who have a financial interest in getting rid of them. We hear it from sheep and cattle farmers, from councils in peri-urban areas being eyed by developers, and from the government, which is making huge profits overseeing the commercial kangaroo industry that turns kangaroos into leather for NIKE.

Some may argue that it makes logical sense for kangaroo populations to be exploding, because their natural predators have been eliminated or drastically reduced, such as dingoes and the Aboriginal nations who ate kangaroo.

But predation of kangaroos is much higher now than at any time pre-1788: commercial shooters kill over 40,000 kangaroos per month in NSW alone. That figure doesn't include joeys, who they do not count, and it doesn’t include any of the other persecutions kangaroos suffer in Australia – ‘culling’ from local governments, farmers and landowners (last year, over 200,000 farmers or landholders in NSW alone received licenses to shoot any kangaroos on their property), recreational hunting, homelessness and starvation due to peri-urban development, and daily road deaths.

At no time in their 20 million years on this continent, have kangaroos been as persecuted and predated upon as they are now.

The myth of the kangaroo plague was debunked in the 2021 Parliamentary Inquiry, where it was found that government data on kangaroo numbers was “biologically impossible” and amounted to “large-scale misrepresentation”.

As such, there is no reliable data on how many kangaroos there are. This is convenient for those who want to continue shooting them, and terrifying for the hundreds of NSW citizens who made submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry that kangaroos had permanently disappeared from their area. These are called ‘localised extinctions’. A chain of localised extinctions is what precedes actual extinction.

Australia has the worst rate of mammal extinction in the world – do we want kangaroos to be next?

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Mythbusting: There are plenty of kangaroos where I live, that means there's no problem!

If commercial shooters are able to kill over 40,000 kangaroos per month in NSW alone, there must be plenty of kangaroos, right? Doesn’t that prove that they’re ‘overpopulated’?

There are always plenty left somewhere until there are none left anywhere.

In the 2021 Parliamentary Inquiry, hundreds of citizens reported localised extinctions all up and down NSW. There may be plenty near where you live, but there are documented permanent kangaroo disappearances in hundreds of regions of NSW: these disappearances are permanent and total. A chain of local extinctions is what precedes actual extinction, and this chain of alarm bells is the reason the 2021 Parliamentary Inquiry was held in the first place.

The Inquiry received hundreds of submissions from residents, griefstricken that kangaroos had completely disappeared from their area. In the same Inquiry, independent biostatisticians and ecologists gave evidence that kangaroos were being hunted to extinction. (You can read more details about the Parliamentary Inquiry lower down on this page.)

There are high profits in kangaroo hunting because the top buyers of “k-leather” are corporations such as Nike and Adidas. The meat becomes petfood which, again, has a high profit margin. Just look through history– any profit-driven hunting of wildlife never ends well. We're not going to wait until kangaroos have gone to raise awarenessWe're trying to stop this now. 

If someone had acted at this point for Tasmanian Tigers, farmers and hunters would have made the same dissenting remarks – ‘they’re pests’, ‘come look where I live, there are plenty’ – but now, nearly 100 years later, we know who was right.

Tasmanian tigers were "pests'' too and their bodies were piled high – so farmers and hunters could claim there were "plenty" of them too. Then they were gone. Do you want to live in an Australia where we only see kangaroos in zoos?

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Kangaroo trauma: joeys stop playing

Every night across Australia, hunters come in loud trucks with blinding spotlights and chase kangaroos down. Every night.

They are indiscriminate. They even kill mothers with joeys in their pouches.

They are inaccurate. They’re meant to kill with one fatal shot to the head, but the 2021 Parliamentary Inquiry saw evidence of kangaroos fleeing with only their mouths blown off, or other bodily wounds, to die slowly later of starvation or injury.

Kangaroos are gentle, sensitive and empathetic. They lead rich emotional and social lives. They are deeply connected to their ‘mob’ – their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and friends.

After a mother is shot, her shocked joey is pulled out of her pouch and either stomped or bashed on a bullbar. The government and commercial kangaroo industry describe this as ‘humane’.

Joeys old enough to flee will die a slow lonely death, not able to survive yet on their own and having just seen their entire family shot in front of them.

We do not know how many joeys suffer like this, because the industry does not count joey deaths. One estimate is that, across Australia, 500,000 joeys are killed by the commercial kangaroo industry every year.

In one of the most heartbreaking days of the 2021 Parliamentary Inquiry, scientist Professor Brooks gave evidence that joeys who’ve witnessed hunting stop ‘exhibiting play behaviour’.

Joeys who’ve seen their friends and family shot in front of them stop playing.

This industry is traumatising kangaroos.

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What’s Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley got to do with it?

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has the power to STOP the largest slaughter of land-based wildlife in the world, which is Australia's commercial kangaroo slaughter.

Our fight for kangaroos has reached a critical juncture. Right now, Minister Ley is considering whether to sign off on a new five-year 'Kangaroo Management Plan'.

What's a 'Kangaroo Management Plan'? It's nothing to do with 'management'. It's simply a bureaucratic name for the commercial kangaroo industry.

The Kangaroo Management Plan oversees the shooting of kangaroos to sell to Nike and Adidas for leather ("k-leather") and their bodies for petfood.

This is the same 'management plan' that is killing over 40,000 kangaroos per month in NSW alone, and which the 2021 Parliamentary Inquiry found was pushing kangaroos to the brink of extinction.

It is now up to Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley whether she signs off on this national kangaroo death sentence... or not.

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Tell me more about NIKE

As one of the world’s biggest buyers of kangaroo skins, Nike must take ownership of its contribution to the bludgeoning of thousands of joeys to death every night, and the regional extinction of kangaroos already happening across Australia. The recent NSW kangaroo inquiry has shown us that kangaroo killing is unsustainable and inherently cruel, and we need big brands like NIKE to join consumers in rejecting this profit-driven cruelty and environmental destruction.'

– MP Mark Pearson

NIKE is the biggest sports brand in the world. It owns 42% of the market (no other brand comes close) and it is by far the most iconic.

NIKE is also the world's second biggest buyer of kangaroo skins.

If they were to stop using kangaroos, it would seriously impact the commercial kangaroo industry: in fact, it would render it no longer profitable or viable.

This is because the profit from kangaroo leather is one of the main drivers of the commercial kangaroo industry.

That's why we are targeting NIKE. If they stop buying kangaroo leather, the whole commercial kangaroo industry might be dismantled.

As one of the most influential brands in the world, NIKE's actions will also have a knock-on effect, creating pressure for other brands to drop kangaroo leather as well.

The entanglement of NIKE and the commercial kangaroo industry means that NIKE is funding the largest slaughter of land-based wildlife in the world, which is driving kangaroos to the brink of extinction.

NIKE claims to be an ethical and sustainable company. Under their 'Animal Skins Policy they state: "Kangaroos - If wild caught, must be sourced from actively managed populations with government agency oversight".

They also state that NIKE requires animal products to be obtained in humane and responsible ways. But the 2021 Parliamentary Inquiry revealed that the commercial kangaroo industry is neither sustainable nor humane.

NIKE we have a message for you: the Australian Government and the commercial kangaroo industry are lying to you. There is no government oversight, there is no ‘active management’. It is not humane or responsible. The numbers don't add up and kangaroo populations are in serious decline across the country.

This year we saw a stream of Australian Government officials, representatives and ambassadors knocking on the doors of US Senators, EU Parliament members and corporations, in an attempt to assure them that the Australian commercial kangaroo industry was 'the best managed wildlife slaughter in the world'.

The best? Across Australia every year there are two million kangaroos brutally killed and 500,000 joeys stomped, bludgeoned, decapitated or left to die alone without their mothers. How can this be described as the best?

Whilst it is far from the best it is certainly the biggest. It's the biggest slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet. The only slaughter that even comes close is the seal slaughter in Canada which is tiny in comparison, with 200,000 seals killed for their fur.

We all know that the seal slaughter attracted world wide condemnation, with the EU and the USA banning seal skin products. Why do we not see the same outrage and condemnation about the slaughter of kangaroos? Is it because it happens in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere with no one watching?

Well, NIKE, we are watching, and you have been told. Australians do not want our beautiful, gentle, inquisitive, sensitive and unique kangaroos made into soccer boots.

NIKE you have blood on your hands. Your use of kangaroo skins is driving a killing spree across Australia.

Whilst kangaroos are being terrorised and shot, joeys ruthlessly bludgeoned to death, NIKE executives and shareholder are celebrating. Last year their revenue increased by 19% to $44.5 billion. Their CEO John Donahoe, the man who has the power to end NIKE’s use of kangaroos, had a full salary package plus stocks that came to a staggering $23.2 million.

NIKE does not have to use kangaroos. There are alternatives and NIKE is already using them! They even manufacture a product called kanga-lite which is synthetic, sustainable and cruelty free.

It's time NIKE took a stand. Diadora, Prada and Versace have all banned the use of kangaroo skins. As a powerful and influential corporation, we ask NIKE to join them and bring an end to this unnecessary killing.

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Parliamentary Inquiry finds government data on kangaroo numbers “biologically impossible” and “large-scale misrepresentation”

In 2021, there was a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Health and Wellbeing of Kangaroos and Other Macropods in NSW. Leading up to the Inquiry, hundreds of ordinary citizens made submissions reporting localised extinctions – meaning kangaroos had completely disappeared from areas where they used to be seen.

The Inquiry exposed the myth of the kangaroo plague: government data on kangaroo numbers was found to be “biologically impossible” and amounted to “large-scale misrepresentation”.

In short, this means there is no reliable data on how many kangaroos there are. This is convenient for those who want to continue profiting from their large-scale slaughter, and terrifying for those who care about our gentle, sensitive icon. It also gives greater weight to the hundreds of localised extinctions reported to the Inquiry, from citizens across NSW. A chain of localised extinctions is what precedes actual extinction.

In NSW, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) manages the commercial kangaroo industry. The DPIE is in charge of counting kangaroos and establishing a sustainable shooting quota (‘harvest quota’) for each region in NSW, based on existing population numbers.

At the Parliamentary Inquiry, independent biostatistician Claire Galea submitted evidence that the DPIE’s counting of kangaroos contained multiple mathematical and statistical errors including incorrect percentage calculations, inapplicable correction factors, incoherent changes in population estimates, patterns of data that made no logical sense and even numbers that were biologically impossible.

Below is a much-condensed list of only some of the DPIE’s failings identified in the 2021 Parliamentary Inquiry:

Issue 1: The DPIE conducts aerial surveys across different commercial zones to assess kangaroo populations. From the survey, they establish a kangaroo population estimate for each zone, and from the population estimates, they determine the commercial shooting quotas. (The methodology behind how the shooting quota is established is not publicly available.)

But the DPIE’s surveys only cover between 4.8% down to <1% of each zone. For peer-reviewed publication – the globally trusted professional standard of scientific work – a minimum of 30-35% survey coverage is required. By only surveying a maximum of 4.8% of a zone, the DPIE is failing to meet the minimum standard for scientific work – by a longshot!

Issue 2: Expanded zones obscure population trends. Over the years, the DPIE has added new zones and expanded existing zones. However, they’ve then fed this data back into their long-term population averages graph, giving a false and misleading picture that populations have remained stable or grown. This dangerously obscures the true picture of macropod population averages over time.

As just one example, in 2018 the Griffith zone had a population estimate of 919,282. In 2019, the Griffith zone was expanded to include Wagga Wagga, an increase of thousands of square kilometres. The population estimate for the new Griffith-Wagga combined zone in 2019 was 1,689,268, giving a picture of population growth.

But in 2020, the population estimate for the Griffith-Wagga combined zone had nearly halved, down to 792,957. This is significantly less than what it was even in the original, much smaller Griffith zone. By shifting and changing zones in this way, the DPIE has obscured the true picture of what is occurring.

Issue 3: Constantly changing survey methods mean there is no reliable picture of long-term macropod populations. The methods used to obtain population estimates have changed four times in the last 30 years. This is concerning because it means long-term averages are not reliable – population estimates cannot be averaged over time given the change in surveying methods.

Independent biostatistician Claire Galea said, “In statistics if we change our survey methodology we have to account for these changes using mathematical techniques. The DPIE do not do this.”

Issue 4: The surveys often rely on unrepresentative transects. To conduct the aerial surveys, DPIE workers fly along a transect (a line across a habitat) and count the number of kangaroos they see. This transect has been reduced from 200m to 100m. For a sample to be considered reflective of the population it needs to be chosen so that the area can be extrapolated to the entire population – i.e. it must be representative of the whole. But the DPIE includes unrepresentative transects, for example – if a transect flies over a water source they are likely to see higher numbers of kangaroos, which cannot be extrapolated out to the rest of the area – but this is not taken into consideration.

Issue 5: Independent statisticians have not been able to replicate their extrapolations from these transect sightings. As just one example, in the Northern Tablelands, the DPIE flew 195 transects (195 x  100m surveys) and saw an average of 2.6 wallaroos per transect. In total, they only saw 508 wallaroos, yet the population estimate they arrived at was 295,666.

Despite investigating the correction factor, techniques such as bootstrapping and multiple other methodologies, Claire Galea and a team of independent statisticians could not replicate this exorbitant jump of 508 extrapolated to 295,666.

Issue 6: The DPIE’s mathematical and statistical work is not subject to any peer-review or external auditing. All statistical and mathematical modelling should be subject to external and/or peer review, especially in a case such as this, where independent statisticians have voiced concerns and cast doubt over methodologies… and especially when it involves practices which could lead to species extinction.

Issue 7: Correction factors used by the DPIE fail to take into account factors such as drought. In their own report, the DPIE stated, “If drought persists for more than six months, wallaroos stop breeding until the drought breaks.” The same DPIE report said, “Dry climatic conditions can greatly reduce numbers.”

But when independent biostatistician Claire Galea went through the DPIE’s 2017–2021 Quota Report, it claimed a massive population increase in wallaroos of 269%. That is ~90% per annum. For this to be mathematically possible, each female wallaroo would have needed to have 77 joeys per year!

That is not biologically possible, and the strangest part is that this purported 269% population increase happened during years of drought. It was mapped against the SPEI, an internationally used, multiscalar drought index based on climatic data. According to the DPIE’s own claims, wallaroo numbers should have reduced during this time.

Issue 8: Correction factors are imported from dissimilar areas. In statistics, if we want to use a method in multiple areas we have to ensure that the areas are similar in terms of land coverage, etc. But the DPIE has been using a correction factor that was established in Queensland, and is now applying it across NSW.

As one example of how this creates an erroneous population estimate, the Queensland correction factor may have been established from land that had less tree coverage than the land in NSW. The DPIE has, for example, then applied this correction factor in the Northern Tablelands, where wallaroos predominantly live among trees and wooded areas – they are not on the plains. You cannot apply the method unless validated in that exact location.

Issue 9: The DPIE collects absolutely no data on how many joeys are killed, so we cannot know how many joeys are killed as a result of the commercial kangaroo industry. This is a glaring and tragic oversight.

Issue 10: Shonky maths. The DPIE uses mathematical methods that have never been validated and in some cases are not applicable. For instance, many of the statistical methods the DPIE has used are only applicable if hundreds of animals have been sighted, but the DPIE has used them even in instances where they’ve only seen as few as 54 animals.

Issue 11: Frequently inexplicable maths and methodologies. Independent biostatistician Claire Galea presented evidence from her analysis of the DPIE’s 2017–2021 Quota Report (V1) at the Parliamentary Inquiry. There were simple mathematical errors and inconsistencies throughout the whole document, such as incorrect percentage calculations, population estimates doubling in one year, and patterns of data that did not make any logical sense.

As just one example, the harvest quota of red kangaroos in Cobar almost equalled the estimated population – meaning the DPIE was allowing commercial shooters to kill nearly every red kangaroo in Cobar – but within two years the DPIE’s population estimate almost tripled from 36,000 to 102,000, despite drought conditions. This seemed mathematically impossible.

Claire dug further, and found an updated report : 2017–2021 Quota Report (V2). All the errors were still there but strange things had changed. For example, the number of red kangaroos observed in the Lower Darling had nearly halved. In V1 the government claimed there were 1.1 million red kangaroos in the Lower Darling. In V2, this figure was mysteriously changed to 690,000 with no mathematical explanation.

Issue 12: Population estimates going down, shooting quotas going up – when they intersect, that’s extinction! This was observed in multiple zones from the DPIE’s reports. The shooting (‘harvest’) quota of red kangaroos in Cobar almost equalled the estimated population – meaning the department was allowing commercial shooters to kill the entire population at Cobar.

As another example, in Glen Innes in the Northern Tablelands, independent biostatistician Claire Galea noted that the downward trend in wallaroo population estimates from 2013–19, would intersect with the increasing shooting quota for that same population in April 2022. That intersection would mean the extinction of wallaroos in Glen Innes by April 2022 – but that regression doesn’t even take into account significant external factors such as drought, which would bring the extinction event closer.

Issue 13: Lack of oversight. Population estimates intersecting with shooting quotas were observed again and again, giving rise to the question – is anyone checking the maths? Is anyone accountable for this data? In Tibooburra, the grey kangaroo population in 2016 was estimated by the DPIE to be 451,594. It dropped by 61% in 2017, and by 2019 was down by 74% again, to 48,502.

By 2020 the population had fallen by another massive 86% to just 6,859. Despite this massive drop, the commercial shooting quota was increased – in fact it was tripled! If that quota had been reached in 2020, only 77 kangaroos would have been left.  How is this allowed to happen?

Issue 14: The DPIE’s own reports show that kangaroos are being driven to extinction, but no one seems to care. The department responsible for kangaroos (Environment) is also the same department responsible for driving them to extinction by commercial shooting (Industry). So who is going to sound the alarm bell for kangaroos?

The DPIE’s 2017–2021 Quota report showed that the grey kangaroo population in Cobar fell by a disastrous 99%. Worse still, exclusion fencing has now been introduced in this zone, which is known to severely impact kangaroos. For this to happen in an area where the population has already been almost completely decimated is gravely concerning, and begs the question – who’s in charge here? And why don’t they care? Red kangaroos in the same region of Cobar have also been decimated, with the DPIE’s reports showing an 81% population decline.

Cobar is not the only zone with such a catastrophic population decline: there are many. And they’re all in the DPIE’s 2017–2021 Quota/’Harvest Management’ Report. The DPIE, as the Department of Industry, Planning and Environment should be ensuring the survival of native species. Their own reports show that they aren’t.

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