A report in the Business Day section of The Age on Thursday, October 11, 2007, suggests that substituting 20% traditional beef with kangaroo meat could help cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15 tonnes per annum.
I've often suggested to people that eating our national symbols would be far better environmentally than eating traditional beef, so this Greenpeace report by Dr Mark Diesendorf comes as no surprise to me.
Firstly, why import and breed animals for food when there is a native species capable of supporting the populations food needs? Secondly, kangaroos are culled in the thousands due to their plague numbers invading farm land. What a waste! Western Australia has started exporting Kangaroo meat, but the industry should think about subsidising the current beef farming industry (in terms of food production rather than their current "delicacy status"). Kangaroos require far less water and are adapted to the harsh Australian climate. Traditional livestock damage river beds when drinking, ruin topsoil through compression with their hooves, and produce high quantities of methane gas (the average cow produces 600L methane a DAY!). Kangaroos being native have a much smaller ecological footprint.
"Australian native wildlife is a renewable resource. If managed in an ecologically sustainable manner, wildlife can provide a perpetual source of economic benefits for all Australians" In fact, Michael Archer Head of the Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW states that "farmers can get filthy stinking rich killing kangaroos".
Although there is still debate about the ability to farm kangaroos, including the amount of meat viable from an animal, and the expense due to fencing costs, it's time to start thinking outside the square. The CSIRO needs to invest more research into the viability of kangaroo farming in the interests of finding a sustainable food source in a country with severe water restrictions and a burgeoning population.