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Kangaroos - The 100 Days Project: Day 22 [79]

Kill Culture

Photo: David Brooks

The origins of the word ‘cull’ have nothing to do with those of the word ‘culture’, though certainly, in Australia, you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Here, it can seem all too often that the idea of killing is almost synonymous with that of – well, what would you call it? ‘conservation’? ‘land management’? Not all that surprising, I suppose, when one considers how rapidly the application of inappropriate farming and grazing practices has destroyed so much of the friable soil surface, creating such intense competition for the dramatically reduced fodder that the land can still produce. When you are determined to raise cattle and sheep in a land so unsuited to them, a land where their hooves will effectively destroy so much of the productive capacity of the soil they walk upon, then of course the rabbits, the goats, the kangaroos, the wild horses, the wild camels, will be seen, by those who would seek to profit from such inappropriate practices, as enemies that must be eliminated. It doesn’t take a great deal of thought to see such a mind-set, bred of such misapplication, becoming entrenched, extending to other forms of agriculture, leading to the culling of flying foxes, cockatoos, galahs, and ultimately, as this becomes even more entrenched – a part of the national culture – to (most recently) the culling of koalas (although now virtually extinct in so many parts of the country), sharks, crocodiles, and whatever else either creates some irritation to the human animal or embarrasses it by stirring its conscience. Go to the National Parks and Wildlife Service with a ‘problem’ with kangaroos on your property and, for a few dollars, you will be offered a licence to kill as many as you require; go to the National Parks and Wildlife Service with a request to be allowed to relocate those kangaroos, rather than kill them, and you will be presented with such expenses, such red tape, and such conditions, that all but the strongest and most determined hearts will give up the idea entirely. How did we come to such a place? How, in a country which at times has seen itself, perhaps rather deludedly, as a world leader in conservation and care for the environment, could we have reached – but have we ever left it? – the point where the massacre of other living creatures is seen as a standard conservation procedure? Conservation by slaughter? What the?

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