Guest blog: Aunty Ro Mudyin Godwin responds to The Guardian on commercial kangaroo killing

On March 14, The Guardian published an article titled ‘Like champagne, mate’: how a US kangaroo ban could kill off an Indigenous opportunity.

The article alleges Aboriginal people are pushing for a “culturally-appropriate” commercial kangaroo industry on country, and that when slaughtering, the industry shows “care, respect, dignity, and honour” to kangaroos.

With a lengthy response to the article, Indigenous educator and freelance journalist Aunty Ro Mudyin Godwin contacted The Guardian’s Royce Kurmelovs, who wrote the original article.

He did not respond.

We are publishing Aunty Ro’s response here, with her permission.

 Thank you, Aunty Ro, for letting us share your response.

 

Good Evening Mr Kurmelovs,

 

‘With maximum efficiency, he turned to the tail, severing it from the roo’s rump with a few deft strokes, grunting, “these’re worth a dollar a piece. Coons buy ‘em and make soup out of ‘em.’

– Kangaroo Shooter Craig to Jeff Simmormon.

 

I wonder, Royce, how those Indigenous People you interviewed for your biased article of complete misinformation would feel knowing that the very Industry Shooters whom they are blindly supporting in the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry are referring to Aboriginal People as COONS.

 

And if you had actually conducted any unbiased factual research into the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry in its entirety, you would know it’s in fact an Industry of the White Man of introduced slaughter, that was unknown in Australia prior to Invasion, fuelled by colonialism, which employs predominantly WHITE not indigenous people. I as an Indigenous Woman am about to tell you why that is.

Firstly though I must say: Thank you for showing the world how utterly desperate the already repugnant Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry are in trying promote itself. The Guardian has also shown how it’s no better than the Murdoch Media Empire in peddling fake news & misinformation. And & I will be doing further investigation, into how much of taxpayers’ dollars the Industry have spent this time around in another futile attempt, to rescue their dying industry of genocide.

A bit about myself first.
I’m an Indigenous Woman, a Freelance Journalist who unlike yourself or those you featured in your “article”, have been exposing the reality in regards to the entirety of the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry for many years, including the colonialism that fuels the industry as well as the millions of taxpayers’ dollars used in promoting it. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside & with all from, Indigenous Elders, such as Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison, Ex-Kangaroo Shooters such as Lyn Gynther from Kanga Watch Inc, Wildlife Conservation Biologists, Independent Journalists, Ecologists, Biologists, Wildlife Rescue Carers, Whistle Blowers from within the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry, retired politicians such as Lee Rhiannon, current Politicians such as the Hon Mr Mark Pearson MLC, Documentary Film Makers such as Creative Cowboy Films, Documentary Journalists such as Maria Taylor whose latest Book “Injustice” you might like to read to educate yourself on a few facts, & those such as Mr Mick McIntrye & Kate McIntrye Clere who’s Award Winning Documentary ‘Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story’ is a factual expose  of the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry in its entirety.

 

Indeed clearly you haven’t watched the award winning Documentary ‘Kangaroo: A Love- Hate Story’ paying close attention to what Indigenous Elder Yuin Man Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison states about the industry, because if you had taken the time to watch it, you wouldn’t have penned such an offensive, generalised propaganda piece of questionable journalism.

 

Indeed as Yuin Man Indigenous Elder Uncle Max Dulumunmun states & I quote “The Malu is an important totem in Aboriginal culture  and plays a significant role in maintaining our Song Lines ie the lines and centres of energy upon which our culture and all humanity is dependent for sustaining its balance and centredness. The broader Australian community has adopted it as a national icon as well. The Kangaroo is part of the Australian Coat of Arms and there are many Australians who do not support their slaughter because of the cruel manner in which it’s conducted”.

 

In fact no Indigenous person who respects Culture & who is true to Culture supports the White Government Legislated Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry in any way shape or form or, ever will.

 

Not only have the many of we Indigenous people with a true & strong connection to Culture NEVER been involved in ANY practices that is the mass indiscriminate slaughter of ANY wildlife species for profit, but we never will be. Especially given that mass indiscriminate unmonitored slaughter for profit which sees several generations of Kangaroos slaughtered in the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry, flies in the face of Indigenous Culture. Beginning & end of story.

 

I’d love to know how having entire mobs of Kangaroos indiscriminately gunned down for profit that includes the legal act of bludgeoning Kangaroo Joeys to death, body shooting Kangaroos to immobilise them, then bashing them to kill them is in any way shape or form Cultural. Clearly Mr Dwayne Mallard shows his complete ignorance in regards to the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry, given if he had any clue he would know as an ever increasing number of both Non-Indigenous & Indigenous people do, that the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry has at its core, mass indiscriminate unmonitored slaughter.

 

I note this Royce: the disappearance of the Pilbara’s kangaroos, and what ex-roo-shooters have to say.

 

A few more facts here:

 

What an abandoned victim of the slaughter looks like.

 

How the industry fails kangaroo welfare.

 

Diane and Greg Keightley’s story.

 

A twisted light: Dunkeld and the Killing of Kangaroos

 

Then of course we have this from back in 2011 that you Royce obviously conveniently missed:

 

Food fight – Aboriginal elders take on the kangaroo industry

 

Nothing has changed in regards to the viewpoint of many of we Indigenous people regarding the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry, but of course we Indigenous people condemning this industry fuelled by colonialism, are constantly ignored. Funny that, given the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry is legislated by the White Privileged State & Federal Governments who also profit from the slaughter.

 

I’ve worked together with the truly independent media organisation District Bulletin on several articles including this published article – Why do people still think mass killing of our wildlife is okay? – which unlike your propaganda piece Royce, is an unbiased factual presentation.

 

Which brings me to my next few points.

 

Kangaroos are not introduced/ Sheep & Cattle are, therefore it’s the latter competing with Kangaroos for what’s left of forage. Animal Agriculture infrastructure such as Fences also have no place on Country, Royce. Again another simple fact that anyone with one functional brain cell would understand.

 

Kangaroos have more predators now than ever before so your claim of the removal of the Kangaroos “natural predator” being the Dingu or Dingo is somehow allowing Kangaroo populations to flourish is absolutely, false. Dingu are only a relative newcomer to Country & were introduced here only a few thousand years ago. Kangaroos, Royce, have evolved on Country across millions of years to be perfectly suited to it. The Dingu is an opportunistic hunter which again if you’d ever had any actual experience in the interaction of remote Dingu mobs as I have, you would know that fact. No Dingu is going to risk its own life in attempting to take down a healthy 120kg Kangaroo, they take the small, injured, sick or weak. Opportunistic. Hunters. Royce.

 

The NATURAL Apex Predator of the Kangaroo has always been the Eagle again if you had interacted with Wildlife such as Kangaroos for years as I & those in Wildlife Rescue for example have, then you’d also know that. The Introduced Apex Predator who has caused the most & ongoing decimations of Kangaroos is the White Man, especially those in the Unsustainable Farming Sector & the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry in its behaviours. Then Royce we have Introduced Wild Dogs, Feral Cats, Foxes & I note with interest the following, “However during this pouch emergence phase the proportion of females with young declined sharply in sites with foxes by around 50%. By contrast where foxes were removed, most females kept their young over this period” (Banks PB. 2000.University of Sydney) then we have the introduction of poisoning, involving the use of urea in artificial watering points ,the use of Cluster Fencing which not only causes carnage to a vast array of Wildlife but it stops all NATURAL migration of wildlife such as Kangaroos, Wallabies, Wallaroos, Emus, Wombats etc. I note also, Royce, another introduced predator being that of climate change which again is accommodated predominantly by the Unsustainable Farming Sector, Logging Industries,& Mining Industries, these industries have at their core land clearing, this in turn accommodates surface temperature increases which then drives the increasing intensity of Climate Change, which we see in such events as Drought which are like  Bushfires, increasing in their intensity. Both which you & your Indigenous Guests fail to understand or indeed have any clue about. In Drought for example Kangaroos suffer huge NATURAL mortality rates with Adult Kangaroos suffering up to 60% mortality rates & juvenile mortality rates up to 100% so the claim of these overpopulating Kangaroos again is not only completely factless, but biologically impossible.  More on that here.

 

Also we know that when any species reaches a point where it can no longer sustain its own population then NATURALLY that species will die out via Natural Selection so therefore if Kangaroos were in fact …overabundant… there would be no need to shoot them for profit. You can drip feed Kangaroos 24hrs a day, 7 days a week yet they cannot exceed their natural reproduction capabilities, which in fact are the same as the reproduction capabilities of the Koala. Again had you engaged in any sort of independent evidence based factual  research, which you can find in the links above, you would’ve known that basic fact, in regards to the reproduction capabilities of Kangaroos.

 

Kangaroos are also a keystone species upon which various species of Indigenous Flora & Fauna depend upon, for their own survival, so what do you think is happening to entire ecosystems in which Kangaroos have been slaughtered out upon, Royce??

 

Kangaroos are also essential in the biodiversity of Country, they play an essential role in seed dispersal, top grazing foliage, fertilisation of plants via their manure which is a naturally occurring vitamin rich, fertiliser. Kangaroos  aerate soils & thus ensure a healthy soil ecology, this occurs when the toenails & forearm claws of the Kangaroo leave indentations upon country which then trap moisture & seeds, thus providing an increased opportunity for seed dispersal & germination. They also carry seeds in their fur which again assists in the regeneration of Country, they indeed also graze fuel loads on Country which in turn assists in the mitigation of Bushfire intensity & impacts. So again I question the mindset of ANY person who claims that the mass indiscriminate slaughter of Kangaroos for profit which is causing localised extinctions can be a good thing. All that shows is complete arrogant disconnect on the behalf of anyone supporting the slaughter of Kangaroos. Full stop.

 

And yet again we see factless generalisations littering your article with a completely unsubstantiated claim  made by Mr Clayton Donovan that “Europeans have mostly thought of kangaroos as dog meat” incorrect yet again as many Europeans who chose to make this Country Australia their home have done so with respect to those here long before them like the Kangaroo & indeed when I’ve spoken to many on old bushies they speak of how appalling the slaughter of Kangaroos has become, there was always an unwritten law that no Indigenous Animals would be harmed & so they weren’t until the rise of colonialism pushing the very slaughter that  so many sill remain opposed to. And again anyone with a functional brain cell knows that Kangaroo meat is full of worms & that they have a naturally heavy parasite load. Only those with no care for wildlife & or domesticated animals feed Kangaroo Meat to Dogs. Again I’d suggest, Royce, you do a bit of indeed factual research & encourage Mr Donovan to do the same.

 

 

We see the continuing thread of those  supporting the slaughter of Kangaroos embarrass themselves, showing right throughout your “article” that they in fact have very little clue about, Kangaroos & definitely no clue about the reality of the  Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry.

 

The impacts of Drought also reduce the fecundity of multiple generations of Kangaroos, with Kangaroo Does surviving Drought weaning less offspring & their daughters weaning less grand offspring. So I’d again suggest you educate yourself on facts in regards to the reproduction capabilities of Kangaroos.

 

I also note in NSW there has been two mass mortality events in which millions of kangaroos died as the result of a STILL undiagnosed disease but you knew about that…right? How about your Indigenous Chef? It’s extremely unprofessional of them to be talking up a wildlife slaughter industry that has seen UNDIAGNOSED disease outbreaks kill millions of Kangaroos wouldn’t you say?

 

We also know that Kangaroo Meat for human consumption in Australia isn’t tested for known zoonotic pathogens. Again showing how irresponsible & unprofessional these Indigenous Chefs & People you featured in your increasingly biased article or should we say desperate advertising campaign for the equally desperate Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry, are.

 

I refer to this, yet another article I’ve written in regards to the public health risk of Kangaroo Meat Consumption: Don’t Eat Kangaroo Bushmeat and Why.

 

This completely bias & factless article of yours also fails to mention that when entire mobs of Kangaroos are gunned down, not only do the miss-shot escape & linger in agony till death, but Kangaroo Joeys are torn from their slain mothers pouches & bludgeoned to death with Shooters bragging about stomping on Joeys heads. Again another Kangaroo Shooter speaks out here  & indeed “A damning research report shelved by the Australian government has confirmed that every night at the hands of the kangaroo meat and skin industry hundreds of orphaned baby kangaroos are wrenched  from their dead mothers pouch and as they wriggle and cry out…they’re swung by their feet…bashed with iron bars…smashed against utility trays and rocks…or the shooter stomps on their head with their boot. At – foot baby kangaroos are simply abandoned and left to die alone.” (McLeod & Sharp 2014, Australian Society for Kangaroos 2014).

 

As I’ve stated prior, no Indigenous person who is true to Culture would ever involve themselves in such atrocities being committed upon a Totemic Species such as Kangaroo, which are in fact held as a Sacred Totem Animal by many of we Indigenous people.

A Totem holds significant importance for each individual, family group or mob & they hold the important responsibility of enduring the identified species for generations to come. Links between the Spiritual World, Creation Time & the current Living World are associated with Totems who are passed down from Mother or Father, given by a Spiritual Sign linked to the spirit, of the Ancestor that the Totem represents. My Family Totem & the Totem of many of we Indigenous people is the Kangaroo, Royce.

 

I also find it extremely interesting that ANY chef would put their own careers on the line by associating themselves with any wildlife slaughter industry given the wildlife  industries are well known trigger points in the increasing outbreaks of Zoonotic Diseases. Also of interest is that Kangaroos after they have been gunned down, are butchered in the Bush, with no independent monitoring of that, or at the point of kill. The carcasses are then whilst bleeding out, hung up on the side of a shooter’s ute for up to 8hrs without any refrigeration, I repeat…without ANY refrigeration, whilst the Shooter continues to drive through the  Bush destroying Country as he/she goes, searching  for these overabundant kangaroos that you with no evidence claim exist.

 

In fact if Kangaroos are so overabundant why is it that there has been an estimated decline of 4Million Kangaroos in NSW in just the last year alone & why is it that Kangaroos with dressed carcass weights of just 12kg are now being accepted at the processors? And Royce, the very Government & Industry whose pockets you are clearly in, don’t even know how many Kangaroos there are given there are no actual Kangaroo population counts done, you see the industry promotes itself as sustainable yet correction factors are used to artificially bolster estimated kangaroo populations to reach biologically impossible numbers, so the Industry on paper continues to appear to be sustainable, yet the reality & independent researched evidence shows this is absolutely not the case, given increasing localised extinctions. Interesting that neither yourself nor anyone in your “article” are aware of that fact or even mentioned it.

 

I note also no mention of Chiller Boxes, which like the aforementioned, show there is no comparison between Traditional Hunting of Kangaroo on a survival basis for a Mob who don’t hold them as Totem & in comparison to the reality of the Commercial kangaroo killing industry.

 

Chiller Boxes are where Kangaroo carcasses are loaded hot, from a Shooters filthy ute, packed in together with very little air circulation given a Chiller Box is essentially a recycled shipping container retro fitted with a “cooling system”. Kangaroo Carcasses still bleeding out, are usually hung alongside Wild Boar Carcasses which are also left there to bleed out, indeed Kangaroo Carcasses will hang in a Chiller Box for up to another 12days before even being transported to the Processors. Go take a sniff of that Chiller Box after 12days of tightly packed bleeding out carcasses being hung in them.

 

Again no Chef be they black, white, brindle or purple with pink polka dots who knows anything about meat contamination issues & ongoing public health concerns, especially associated with Kangaroo meat that has been left unrefrigerated for hours, would ever associate themselves with such an industry, so the kickbacks from the Industry for both you & those Indigenous Chefs & People involved in the mess that is your article full of misinformation & ignorance, must be quite impressive.

 

Meat contamination issues in the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry are nothing new, Royce.

 

See also, this: contamination of kangaroo meat.

 

At least one supermarket in the UK has stopped selling kangaroo meat based on hygiene and cruelty alone.

 

I note that you failed to also mention the International Trade Bans in place against the Commercial Kangaroo Killing. It really says something when even Russia bans the importation of Kangaroo meat. Oh & of course there’s the corruption.

 

You, Mr Royce Kurmelovs, via this article have not only completely discredited yourself but you have dragged the once well respected media organisation “The Guardian” through the gutter, you have caused great offence to many of we Indigenous people who not only hold Kangaroo as Totem but delivered another smack in the face to us, given we’ve been forced to sit back in silence & watch the systematic destruction of Kangaroos fuelled by nothing but ingrained colonialism, such as you’ve presented.

 

Your “article” is trash journalism & you’ve shown that to be so, by deliberately presenting something which is nothing more than an advertisement for the utterly desperate Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry. To read the comments of complete disconnect & in some cases outright lies, in regards to both Kangaroos & indeed in regards to Culture & in regards to the reality of the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry here in Australia is utterly, shameful.

 

Go & spend some time with Greg & Dianne Keightley, Royce. See, smell hear & watch the atrocities that are committed in the slaughter of Kangaroos & understand how that reality is causing trauma to many of not just we Indigenous people, but to the thousands of Wildlife Rescue Carers & members of the public who are also witnessing this slaughter & are now speaking out about it.

 

You can also go to my Instagram Account (@auntyromudyingodwin) & see photos of the reality along with my published articles & interviews.

 

And you can listen to what I as an Indigenous Woman who has a strong connection to Culture & indeed to Kangaroo has to say to Californian Organisation Just Animals here.

 

You owe Australia an apology for your appalling article, but no doubt we will never see an apology from you or others in your article for promoting such a horrific, destructive & dangerous industry & thereby causing ongoing trauma to those of us who have to deal with the reality.

 

Read here, Mr Royce Kurmelovs, what those such as Dr Dror Ben Ami, Dr David Croft Honorary Professor, Dr Daniel Ramp, Dr Keely Bloom an Awabakal Indigenous Woman, and Dr Neil Perry state in regards to the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry that you are so shamelessly & irresponsibly promoting: an open letter to the public about the commercial killing of kangaroos.

 

 

US Congressmen Mr Salud Carbajal (Democratic Party,California) & Mr Brian Fitzpatrick (Republican Party, Pennsylvania) have my absolute support in the Kangaroo Protection Act they are presenting to US Congress, as they also have the support of millions of people  worldwide & of course here in Australia, who have had an absolute gut full of the murderous history of Australia & the destruction that has already been caused to so many wildlife species, especially the Kangaroo. This unhinged slaughter of Kangaroos & the equally unhinged colonialism fuelling this slaughter & indeed the irreversible destruction of Country needs to stop & stop immediately.

 

Regards,

Aunty Ro Mudyin Godwin,

Indigenous Educator,

Freelance Journalist.