Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story is an informative, eye-opening investigative documentary that showcases the magnificence and splendour of our national icon along with the darkest secrets, devastation of the industry, and the complex and conflicting opinions of farmers, scientists, politics and the public.
The kangaroo is an important part of this nation, they have been here for millions of years, and are considered a totem to our indigenous people. They aren't found anywhere else in the world, are a unique marsupial and are proudly displayed on our national coat of arms. So how did we get to the point where the kangaroo has been declared a pest, while also becoming a significant export market?
The kangaroo has so much grace and beauty, with great strength bounding across the countryside, and incredibly they can do this while carrying a baby in their pouch. The power kangaroos display in their bound is important for their survival. They can travel great distances at great speeds, which is evolutionary genius for a species in a place like Australia. When you think about Australian icons, it goes without saying that kangaroos are on that list.
Yet this magnificent animal has become the target for culling, which made it the basis of the pet food and international trade for both meat and skin. You'll be shocked to learn the major product that kangaroo hide is used for and people are buying it without any idea when they are purchasing it. What really surprised me even more, was that in the rest of the world this has made major headlines, yet in Australia, there has been very little that has caught media's attention.
Farmers claim that kangaroos are destroying pastures because they can get right down to the ground and eat the grass. Therefore they're in competition with sheep and cattle for pasture, which affects the farmers because they are only interested in their agricultural production. The farmers put blame on the kangaroo, saying they damage the environment, never mind that they were here before the sheep or that they have a lower impact on the land, needing about 1/10th of the water to survive. You often hear the reference that kangaroos are in plague proportion, but the question is – In proportion to what?
Kangaroos are protected by legislation, all native species are, but there are so many exclusions from these protections, especially for farmers and developers. If you have land and you want to do something there, your rights completely negate the kangaroo's right to be there.
Government departments regulate the harvest of kangaroos through setting what they call sustainable quotas. But the calculations of kangaroo populations are estimates. They're counted from the air, this data is dumped into an algorithm, and you get a number of the supposed population. It doesn't take into account severe impact from drought, farmers shooting, illegal shooting, climate change or extreme weather such as flood and fire, juvenile mortality, they ignore the slow rates of reproduction and they can't explain how it works.
Some consider the kangaroo to be a prospective industry and culling a necessity, yet scientists have documented that local and regional extinction has happened, they really don't have accurate figures of the kangaroo populations.
This heartrending documentary directed by Mick McIntyre and Kate McIntyre Clere, clearly sets out to expose the reality of the mistreatment of kangaroos. Experts, activists, politicians and stakeholders on all sides of the issue are interviewed. Love, hate or confused about the kangaroo, you will gain an insight that every Australian should have about the happenings of this unique marsupial.
Click here to find out where Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story is currently screening.