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The kangaroo betrayed: what happens when you shoot the alpha male?

In 1999 the Australian Wildlife Protection Council produced a book called The Kangaroo Betrayed (with a cover quote by Beatle Paul McCartney calling the commercial trade “a disgrace – cruel and entirely profit motivated.”). Various writers document the impact of the commercial kangaroo ‘harvest’ since it was started by the federal government in the mid-1980s. It also reminds us of earlier near- extinction hunting practices of kangaroos and wallabies. The book can still be obtained from the council.

The book examines the killing of the alpha male, as people blast away at the mobs both commercially and in culls like the ACT’s.

“When a shooter enters the structured society of a mob of kangaroos, he destroys a complex system by killing the alpha male, his immediate rivals, and the older females, who are the educators of the mob. The selective hunting results in females mating with young males and the loss of the inherited strengths of the mob.

“Indiscriminate shooting will exacerbate the so called reason for ‘culling’, usual excuses being too many and over-grazing an area of threatened vegetation. This will be due to a larger number of does becoming pregnant due to the loss of their protector, the alpha male.

If unnecessary ‘culling’ persists (there is never a reason to ‘cull’) then a larger proportion of kangaroos shot should be juvenile males of weight range  approx  40-50 Kilos, definitely never female kangaroos with baby kangaroo joeys in-pouch, those still with dependent young-at foot, or alpha males.”


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