After the first of April this year, one of the most sought-after exports from Australia will stop.
After the first of April this year, one of the most sought-after exports from Australia will stop. The official Australian Government edict has gone out that, from that date, the export of all kangaroo products must stop. The ruling has met with both praise and opposition from conservationists and industrialists throughout the nation.
Australia's Prime Minister, Mr. Gough Whitlam, first made the announcement early in January. He said then that the ban on export of all kangaroos and kangaroo skins was an important step in protecting the kangaroo from extinction. Kangaroo conservationists are delighted with the news. For years they have been petitioning the Australian parliament with pleas to save the animals from extinction.
But there is a different reaction from the kangaroo meat export industry, which claims it must inevitably go out of business. One official estimate states that the ban will cost Australia one million pounds sterling (2,400,000 US dollars) a year in export revenue. Some 250,000 skins are exported annually, and another 130,000 are used for the Australian market. The United States is the main customer for kangaroo skins, but kangaroo meat goes to some unsuspecting destinations. In the 1971-1972 financial year, 420 tons worth was exported under the table 'Fresh, chilled, and fit for human consumption'. Some of the main importing countries in that period were Britain, Singapore and Hong Kong. Kangaroo meat is used extensively for pet food in Australia, while the skins are turned into toys.
At the moment, some of the Australian states have their own local laws listing the regulations regarding kangaroo shooting, but when the new law comes into effect on the 1st of April, the Federal Government will over-ride the State Governments by issuing federal warnings and penalties. But the ban on exports of kangaroo products will not affect the killing of kangaroos where they are still regarded as a threat to agriculture. In central and western areas of New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, kangaroos have been declared pests because they often monopolise the scare pasture.
The Australian Kangaroo Industries Association has its own opinion about the ban. It says there just isn't enough consumption of kangaroo skin in Australia to make the industry viable. It says that if kangaroos are not shot by the industry, they will be shot by graziers and left to die.
There is one big remaining fear among conservationists in Australia - that the shooters will launch a mass slaughter of kangaroos before the new regulations come into force. They predict that one million kangaroos will be shot in the next month or two as exporters rush to send toys, skins and souvenirs abroad before the gate closes. The shooters deny this, and so do the exporters: If they are right, the future is at last secure for Australia's unique national symbol.
SYNOPSIS: The on-again, off-again campaign to save Australia's famous kangaroo from extinction is on again, and this time, it's official. After the first of April this year, the Australian Government has ordered that the export of all kangaroo products will stop. The news has delighted conservationists, but it's brought an outcry from the industries which trade in kangaroo products.
The edict's also brought a new fear.... a fear that until that first of April deadline, kangaroo hunters will stage an all-out rampage to supply the exporters' needs before the Government closes the gate. Some conservationists say that one million kangaroos will be killed over the next two months.
The kangaroo slaughter in Australia is subject to constant attack from animal lovers, but there are two opposing views. Farmers who say they lose millions of dollars a ear because of damage to their crops say they will go on killing them...but only where they are genuinely dangerous to agriculture. And the Australian Kangaroo Industries Association says it must inevitably to out of business when the ban is enforced. Some 250,000 skins are exported every year, and another 130,000 are used for the Australian market. The United States is the main customer for kangaroo skins, but kangaroo meat goes to some unsuspecting destinations. In the 1971-72 financial year, 420 tons of meat was exported under the label 'Fresh, chilled, and fit for human consumption'. One official estimate states that the kangaroo industries will lose more than one million pounds a year in exports after the ban on exports comes into force.
The kangaroo meat is used extensively for pet food in Australia, while the skins are turned into toys like miniature kangaroos, koala bears and wallabies, all natives of the Australian bushland.
The ban won't mean an end to novelties like this. Manufacturers have been stockpiling them by the crateful for the world market, and after the deadline, these will all have to be sold in Australia, until they run out.
But whatever happens now, the future at last seems secure for Australia's unique national symbol.