Allison HolmesAnth 410Scoggin3/8/131Kangaroo BurgersWhen you think of a kangaroo the first thing that comes to mind is definitelynot a big juicy delicious burger. Yet kangaroo is a very sustainable resource, forthousands of years indigenous people of Australia have hunted kangaroo. Evenduring contact period when European settlers came to Australia they relied onkangaroo to survive. Now kangaroo is being commercially hunted, whichsurprisingly not a bad thing. Usually when commercial hunting occurs there is overexploitation and species can become threatened. Commercial kangaroo harvestingrarely meets its quota and is environmentally friendly. However, with all itsbenefits, commercial harvesting of kangaroo has turned a blind eye to the aboriginalpeople that rely on the kangaroo for a resource, not only as meat but also for socialand cultural purposes as well. What if the commercial industries work togetherwith the indigenous people and create a clean, green, and fair trade product thatwould appeal more to its consumers? That is what I would like to propose; twogroups each helping to benefit from one another.Kangaroos are one of the largest populations of wild animal species in theworld. They are by no means threatened or endanger; in fact they could easilybecome over populated. “Pastoral activities in much of the Australian aridrangelands are supporting a large population of kangaroos which, if uncontrolled,would seriously threaten the economic viability of the pastoral industry and theenvironmental sustainability of huge tracks of land”(Buckely). According to the
2Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia (KIAA) there are forty-eight species ofkangaroo but only 4 can be commercially harvested (Kelly). Quotas are set based onpopulation surveys and long-term climate trends (Buckely). Kangaroos are one ofthe few species that have annual population census. Because kangaroos are highlyadaptable to drought there population has increased over the past 25 years, evenwith commercial harvesting (Kelly). An average of 3 million kangaroo are harvestedyearly (Buckely). “ Environmental Australia reports that harvest rates over the pastfive years are on average thirty to fifty percent lower than the available quotaallocations and in South Australia only half of the available quota is harvested inmost years” (Thomsen).Kangaroos are harvested in the most humane way possible. Because they arein their natural environment there is a lot less stress put on the animal than saycattle who are rounded up, loaded into a truck, and transported to be slaughtered. Ifdone correctly the animal is killed quickly with little pain, in its own environment,making it one of most humane forms of animal slaughter (Buckely). They are thenexported to fifty-five different countries (Buckely).Kangaroo meat has huge environmental benefits. Kangaroos are soft footed,they have less of an impact on the ground and landscape (Buckely). Where asanimals like cattle and sheep have hard hooves that cause more damage to thelandscape. They need less food than grazing cattle need, which can exploit the landquite quickly. Kangaroos can also adapt better to drought conditions than cattle(Buckely). Kangaroos do not emit methane. Cattle and sheep do, beef industries inAustralia account for fifteen percent of the country’s carbon emissions (KIAA). This
3is a great new way to look at how animals that are processed for humanconsumption are better for our environment. More and more people are becomingconcerned about the environment, if there is a product that does less damage toglobal warming, you would assume that they would pick that product over the onethat does not. Kangaroo leather is also very light weight and strong, making it asustainable product that is very high quality and in demand( Buckely).Yet commercial kangaroo industries have little understanding about whatissues commercial harvesting presents to aboriginal people. Kangaroos areimportant to the survival of Indigenous people of Australia. They hunt thousands ayear and their meat and skins are a very valuable resource. “Aboriginal peoplesmaintain a strong belief that continued association with and caring for ancestrallands is a key determinant of health” (Buckely). This is very important becausewhere most Aboriginal people live is in very remote locations. It is not easy to put astore in near by, thus taking care of the land and animals is very important, it thesource of survival. “For many years, high rates of morbidity and morality among theAboriginal population of Australia have been a major concern of researchers,healthcare professionals, government and Aboriginal people themselves. Nutritionis the big issue” (Saethre). If some how aboriginal could become involved incommercial kangaroo harvesting it could benefit their communities greatly. Oneidea that Saethre explains is the aboriginal communities should stop buyingproducts from stores and start consuming more food hunted and gathered from thebush. Our diet is based off of our ancestors; our bodies have evolved to process thefood that occurs naturally in our environment more efficiently. When food from a
4different region is introduced it can cause health issues. Our bodies have adaptedover thousands of years to the environment we live, when we start eating somethingthat is different to our diet it, our bodies have a hard time obtaining nutrients fromit. If aboriginals could work with the commercial harvests and take a smallpercentage of their kill home, this would start improving the health of the aboriginalcommunities.However there is still a lack of consideration of social and cultural issues incommercial kangaroo harvesting. Kangaroos have cultural, social, and spiritualsignificance, there are certain ways a kangaroo should be treated and handled in theeyes of the indigenous people. If Aboriginal people could become involved incommercial harvesting, educating employees in certain harvesting techniqueswould be a win win situation. Yet some communities view commercial harvestingas culturally unacceptable. Other communities is it unacceptable on sacred groundsbut acceptable in other areas. In several communities, is it only acceptable toconsume the tail of certain species (Thomsen).Traditional practices often conflict with commercial industry practices. IfAboriginal people were involved in the management of kangaroo harvesting theywould be more equipped to deal with issues that arise and could resolve thembetter than a non-Aboriginal. The industries could actively employ and incorporatethe interests of indigenous people, it could become a way of providing meaningfulemployment and economic support for some of the most disadvantage people inAustralia (Buckely). There is a high unemployment rate within Aboriginalcommunities due to lower educational outcomes.
5There are no programs or policies to help indigenous people becomeinvolved in commercial harvesting. Only one Aboriginal in South Australia has held apermit for commercial hunting in recent years (Buckely). Kangaroos are oftenharvested on aboriginal land or on land with a native title claim. In South Australia,fifty percent of the land where kangaroos are hunted have native title claims(Buckely). Involvement of Aboriginals could help resolve this issue by educating inpractices of proper technique and respecting the land that the kangaroos are huntedon. Equipment for commercial harvesting is expensive and hard to come by,developing micro finance loans to help indigenous people get started in the businesscould really help the communities.If we could create a fair trade product labeling system, this might just be thebest way to support indigenous communities. This system would allow consumersto buy kangaroo products that provide a fair and equitable financial return(Buckely). The slightly higher price of the product goes to the people who made it.The money that is generated can be used for community development to provideculturally appropriate education, research, and industry training. It also can helpmake the communities more healthy and vibrant, with kangaroo meat as a stapleand money coming into the community. Educational practices in nutrition can betaught. “ Aboriginal- endorsed products are likely to have increasing market appealbecause of widespread support for reconciliation amongst the Australian public,strong and growing endorsement of the importance of Aboriginal culture toAustralia” (Buckely). If people like the fact that they know where their food iscoming from and who processed it, this could create an industry that is not only
6clean and green but also very culturally appropriate. People have always beeninterested in past history and supporting their countries native and historicalpeople.I believe that this would a wonderful opportunity for Australia’s commercialkangaroo industry. If Aboriginal people were to work together with commercialkangaroo harvesting imagine all the benefits. This is something that I was casuallyreading over and it instantly caught my interest. I would love to be become involvedin a project like this. This definitely pertains to “my anthropology,” in recent years Ihave become very interested in hunting skills and killing an animal for not only theirmeat but to utilize every part of the animal. In most cases that I have found ancientpeoples in countries utilize this practice. In the case of Australia’s Aboriginal peoplethere is no difference. If we could utilize this way of hunting into a commercialindustry the benefits would be enormous.I would be really interested in actually trying to make this happen. Thereneeds to be more anthropologists in this field, they could help defuse conflicts andmake the industry realize that this would be very beneficial to the industry. Not onlyin more effective meat processing but utilizing the hide and fur. Aboriginal peoplehave frequently repeated the message that they have wanted to become involved inkangaroo harvesting management at all levels. They are the people that know theland, know the environment and species that live off it; they could be of great help tothe industry.Working together in most cases is not always the easiest route, but I believeover time this could be a great industry. Slowing intergrading Aboriginal beliefs and
7practices of kangaroo harvesting into commercial harvesting could really benefitthere communities and provide jobs for some of most unemployed people inAustralia. Setting up programs that allow indigenous people to start businesses orbecome involved in already established commercial industries could be the firststep. Having Aboriginal people teach the industries proper techniques and culturalsignificance could be the next. There are some many levels at which Aboriginalpeople could benefit commercial industries I do not see why industries would beoppose to this idea. Working together maybe tough, but it could benefit both partiesin the long run.With clean, green, and socially acceptable products that is utilizing not onlythe animals’ meat but also the fur and skins, this could be a very appealing productto the public. It could greatly benefit Aboriginal communities, in health andeducation. The next time you sink your teeth into a juicy burger, ask the questionwhere did this meat come from? How environmentally friend is it? Who processedthis meat and did they do it humanely? All these questions could be answered if youwere sinking your teeth into a tasty fair trade kangaroo burger.
8Works CitedBuckley, Simon. "Presentation in the Arctic Centre: Kangaroo Burgers and SupportingIndigenous People." Web log post. Arctic Anthropology. Wordpress.com, 11 Feb.2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2013.Kelly, J.(2008) kangaroo Industry of Association of Australia.Saethre, E. (2005). Nutrition, economics and food distribution in an australianaboriginal community. Anthropological Forum, 15(2), 151-169.Thomsen, D. , & Davies, J. (2005) Social and cultural dimensions of commercialkangaroo harvest in South Australia. Australian Journal of experimentalAgriculture, 45, 1239-1243.Thomsen, D. , & Davies, J. (2007). Rules, norms and strategies of kangaroo harvest.Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 14(2), 123-133.