04 August 2004; for immediate
“Think twice” before you go Down-under urges Viva!
Campaigning animal welfare group Viva! has joined forces with
the Australian Wildlife Protection Council to launch a campaign, “Australia’s
Hidden Shame”, urging potential tourists to think twice about
planning a trip ‘down under’ in light of the annual
slaughter of millions of kangaroos for their meat and skins.
The kangaroo is second only to the Statue of Liberty as the most
recognised tourist symbol in the world*, and Australia recently
launched its biggest ever push for
visitors with a $360 million (Aus) promotional campaign with a logo featuring
the iconic marsupial. Seeing mobs of kangaroos in the wild is a must for most
visitors but the chances of them achieving this are diminishing by the day. “Many
an outback tourist will lament that of the few kangaroos they saw, the majority
were roadkills”, says Dr David Croft, University of New South Wales.
This year alone 4.4 million adult kangaroos have been earmarked
for slaughter for their meat and skins. Baby joeys - worthless
to the industry - are ripped
from their dead mothers' pouches and bludgeoned, decapitated or simply abandoned
to die of starvation and neglect. Australia has recently suffered one of
the worst droughts on record and bush fires have decimated kangaroo
the kangaroo industry continues to kill unabated.
Former kangaroo shooter, David Nichols, dismissed those who promote
the slaughter: “Not
only have they got it all wrong” he says, “they are doing the “bush” a
gross disservice in taking peanuts for a bloodied outback instead of a fortune
in tourism. Their stupidity never ceases to amaze me.”
The massacre of 800 kangaroos and their joeys in July, at the
Googong Dam wildlife reserve outside of Canberra, recently attracted
world, and some sections in the Australian media have expressed concerns
that this will
damage the $70 billion (Aus) a year Australian tourism industry.
Viva! campaigner Justin Kerswell says: "The Australian Government and tourism
industries are cynically using the image of a kangaroo to attract international
visitors, whilst butchering millions of them every year out of the view of tourists.
Not only is this dishonest, it’s the ultimate betrayal of this much loved
icon. International visitors are being hoodwinked into believing that the Australian
Government values the kangaroo, little knowing that the only value they place
on them is the blood money their meat and skins bring.
“ We are calling on people thinking of travelling to Australia to consider
whether they really want to visit a country that harbours the largest massacre
animals in the world today. We are also encouraging them to write to Government
and tourism bodies in Australia to express their concerns.
“ Wildlife safaris, where tourists could view large mobs of kangaroos in
the wild, could swell income from tourism enormously, but ordinary Australians
themselves why it has barely been tried. The finger of blame points squarely
at the Australian Government, which for short term political reasons has chosen
to support the killing industry, despite it being worth less that 0.3 per cent
of current tourist revenues, ignoring the fact that kangaroos are worth more
to Australia alive than they are dead.”
Contact: Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000
Australia’s Hidden Shame: http://www.savethekangaroo.com/tourism/
* Kangaroos in the Marketing of Australia. CRC Sustainable Tourism,
for Editors: Images of kangaroos and kangaroo shooting are available