10th December 2003
for immediate use
Beckham and Wilkinson's boots fuel lethal
assault on kangaroo populations
Despite a catastrophic decline in kangaroo numbers over
the last year, the State Government of New South Wales, Australia,
has announced an extension of commercial kangaroo killing.
Kangaroos are killed to support the trade in their skins for
products such as sports boots - like the Adidas Predators
worn by David Beckham and Jonny Wilkinson. Campaigning animal
group Viva! has opposed this trade as cruel and ecologically-dangerous
for many years and has condemned this latest move as "insanity".
In New South Wales, red kangaroo numbers have fallen from
4.8 million in 2002 to just 2.2 million this year, a drop
of 53%. The fall is attributed mainly to the severe drought
and bush fires that struck Australia this year. Despite kangaroo
numbers being at their lowest for 22 years, the State Government
has approved an extension of the geographical range of the
commercial kangaroo kill even though quotas in some areas
allow up to 80% of the current population to be "harvested".
In an unprecedented move, even a NSW farming organisation,
the West of the Darling Pastoralists Association, has joined
conservation groups in demanding a reduction in the commercial
Kangaroos are "harvested" by shooting in the wild
and the trade is licenced and supposedly monitored by the
authorities. Australian RSPCA research, however, shows that
at least 100,000 kangaroos each year are not shot cleanly
throughout Australia. Millions of nursing mothers are shot,
leading to the additional death of millions of "in-pouch"
and "at foot" joeys. Official policy is that "in
pouch" young are bludgeoned to death by a blow to the
head. Scientific experts have also expressed concern that
the scale of slaughter weakens the gene pool within kangaroo
populations and could threaten some species' survival. Australia
already has the second-highest number of threatened animal
species of any country in the world.
Viva! campaigner Alistair Currie says: "This latest
move is absolutely incredible. For the sake of a few jobs
for kangaroo shooters, the NSW Government is willing to put
unstable kangaroo populations at even greater risk. Kangaroo
numbers have plunged over the last year as Australia has suffered
drought and fires but the Government just carries on regardless,
whistling 'Waltzing Matilda' as the Outback burns. The whole
shabby concept of 'sustainable utilisation' has been exposed
this year as a cloak for the reckless commercial exploitation
of Australia's unique and irreplaceable wildlife heritage."
Notes for editors
Adidas, makers of Predator boots, are the largest customer
for kangaroo skins in the world. Many top players use and
endorse synthetic boots but Adidas refuse to switch to more
Dr Ian Gunn, Project Director at the Animal Gene Storage
Resource Centre of Australia states, " . . . the continued
slaughter of kangaroos has the potential to cause the extinction
of a number of remaining species."
According to a November 2003 report by the World Conservation
Union, Australia has 527 animal species listed as critically-endangered,
threatened or vulnerable. It is second only to the USA for
number of threatened species.
Viva! has still and video images of kangaroo shooting (available
in most formats) and has published a fully-referenced report
on the issue, "Under Fire". The report and further
information can be seen at wwww.savethekangaroo.com
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