Proposed Kangaroo Import Ban Reveals Complex Australian Issue

Finding an easy answer here might not be possible

A proposed law from the US would ban the imports of kangaroo-derived products.
Suzuha Kozuki/Unsplash

When you look at photos of a kangaroo leaping across the landscape, you might think of its speed, grace or freedom. That’s not all the marsupials in question are, though. Kangaroos are also at the heart of a sizable industry in Australia, with over $80 million in products exported each year, according to a new article in The Guardian. Those products largely fall into two categories: leather and meat.

A bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives would bring an end to American imports of kangaroo products. Dubbed the Kangaroo Protection Act, this proposed law would prohibit the sale of kangaroos and kangaroo products in the United States. As the report at The Guardian points out, this bill has the support of some animal rights organizations, who argue that the killing of adult kangaroos also leads to a cruel fate for the joeys left behind.

Complicating matters somewhat is the role of kangaroos in Indigenous Australian culture. The Guardian talked with Indigenous chef Clayton Donovan, who made the case for a more measured response. “On my side of the fence, it’s been a food treated with respect and it’s sustained the culture,” Donovan said. “These proteins, I don’t know how far we’d live without them.”

The debate over eating kangaroos has been going on for a while, and the proposed law in the US meshes with some of that same debate. And The Guardian notes that, from the perspective of some Australians, an American ban might adversely affect the kangaroo industry before it can become more sustainable. It’s another area where an easy answer might be impossible to find.

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