top of page

Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 44 [57]

                                 Numbers III

[Reference Day 68 'The Numbers Game' and Day 62 'Numbers II']

Photo: Ray Drew

We live under a regime of numbers. And without doubt numbers are a matter of life and death for kangaroos – perhaps for all of us, but kangaroos, and the cruel exploitation of kangaroos, are our subjects here. A government determining how many may be killed each year, always overstating the figure, to encourage the killing. A government determining what percentage of the overall kangaroo population may be slaughtered without affecting the sustainability of the kangaroo ‘harvest’. 

We could be forgiven, then, for a preoccupation with numbers. Indeed some part of us has to be preoccupied with them, if we are to protect any creatures from them. But in another part of ourselves, surely, we have to remember that it is not about numbers. That a lower quota, a lower ‘harvest’, while welcomed in some respects – how could we not welcome them? – do not in any way make the quota or the ‘harvest’ acceptable. That numbers, morally, ethically, have nothing to do with the core issues involved.

Even within their own parameters, numbers as numbers are shaky, ultimately little more than provisional. There may be fifty-seven million kangaroos in Australia at the moment (there may be: can we trust such figures?), but less than a decade ago there were twenty-three million, and a few decades before that there were fifteen million, and it may not be long before it is fifteen or twenty-three again: it all depends upon factors (drought, disease…) that have no interest in numbers.

But of course I am not speaking of that. It makes no difference morally, ethically, if there are two kangaroos to every human Australian, or one to every human Australian, or one for every two human Australians. The kangaroos are another tribe on this planet, another tribe alongside us, a tribe that was here (but, again, this is a trick of numbers) long before any of us came. Any ‘threat’ they present to us is trumped up, a thing of numbers only.

We have no right to interfere with them, whatever numbers say.

bottom of page