Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 9 [92]

        What has happened

   to the Pilbara Kangaroos?

‘The Pilbara’, Wikipedia tells us, ‘is a large, dry, thinly populated region in the north of Western Australia. It is known for its Aboriginal peoples; its ancient landscapes; the red earth; its vast mineral deposits, in particular iron ore; and as a global biodiversity hotspot for subterranean fauna. It is one of nine regions of the Regional Development Commissions Act 1993, and is also a bioregion under the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA). [...] The region had an estimated [human] population of 48,610 as of June 2010. The Pilbara covers an area of 502,000 km2,  which includes some of Earth's oldest rock formations. It includes landscapes of coastal plains and mountain ranges with cliffs and gorges.’

Photo credit: Gypsy Denise (own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0] Wiki Commons

Extending from the coast on the west to the Western Australia/Northern territory border in the east, it is prime range for the red kangaroo and western wallaroo.

So what has happened? At a time when kangaroos are supposedly ‘in plague proportions’ throughout the country, the indigenous humans and traditional custodians of the Pilbara, with many thousands of years’ experience in hunting kangaroos, have been finding them so few on the ground that, in September 2017, for the Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation’s Yule River bush meeting, kangaroo flesh was brought in from Carnarvon. According to The West Australian newspaper, a representative of the corporation said that ‘she was concerned hunters were taking too many kangaroos out of the system, and Aboriginal people were being locked out from hunting in some areas’.

Image courtesy of poet and animal advocate John Kinsella: Red Kangaroos in Western Australia, albeit some way to the south of the Pilbara. Red kangaroos? but surely one of them is grey! Ah yes, that may be, but the female Red Kangaroo is called the blue flyer (after her shiny grey-blue coat). The kangaroos in the photo, John assures me, are on the outside of the fence, and the fence in now gone anyway.

According to the newspaper, the Western Australian environment minister said that this was the first he had heard of the issue, but that he would take up the matter with his department:

‘“If there is unsustainable shooting of kangaroos up here it has to be stopped,” he said.

“It is concerning to hear that traditional owners aren’t getting access to customary traditional rights.

 

“If the wrong thing is being done, we will put a stop to it.”

 

Greens member for Mining and Pastoral […] said there was a belief among some traditional owners professional shooters were not operating sustainably.

“If it is being hunted out by kangaroo shooters we have to reduce the quota,” he said.

“Unfortunately that will be an impost on industry... but kangaroos are a key food source and if they are having trouble finding that because we are turning it into pet meat, that is a problem.”

[The Greens member] said the department had previously indicated to him professional shooters were operating sustainably.’

Source: Tom Zaunmayr, ‘Where have the Pilbara's kangaroos gone?’, The West Australian, 27 September 2017.

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PO Box 396

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