There is a lot of commotion going on Down Under concerning the cull of kangaroos. As a friend of mine in New Zealand says: ‘those plastic sandal wearing trendy white liberal females’ are on the war path again, judging a situation on its face value rather than looking a little bit deeper to where the problems arise and then helping to look for a dignified solution.

Just as in India where the sacred cows were happily adopted for an anti-leather campaign, also in Australia the image of the lovely little kangaroo, the furry stuffed animal that your kids play with in their bedroom, the tv Skippy, is being milked for all it is worth as if the last existing roo on the planet is going to be shot.

Before going back to the kangaroos, for the benefit of those plastic sandal wearing trendy white liberal females, I’d like to express my personal opinion in the leather versus plastic choice for shoes, clothing and accessories such as bags and belts. Leather is an industrial development of a hide or skin that becomes available after an animal is slaughtered for its meat. Instead of letting the hide or skin rot and become an environmental and health hazard, the leather industry transforms it into a non polluting substance called leather.

I was appalled to learn when visiting idyllic Barbados, that the hides and skins of the admittedly few locally slaughtered animals were buried! It is simply not feasible economically to cure the hides and send them off for processing.

What would Barbados or any other (is)land in the world do if animals were not slaughtered any more for their meat and would die of old age as promoted by Peta? How would the earlier mentioned females react if carcases were buried in the sand under their deck chairs?

Choosing leather rather than plastic has, therefore, an extra environmental edge in favour of leather, apart from being more fashionable, prestigious and healthier, as well as other numerous advantages.

In nature the balance is extremely important and the proportion in which each species is represented compared with other species was originally the guarantee that all would have their little corner. Big fish have always eaten the small fish. Because small fish are present in a greater number they are not extinguished as the big fish eat only the quantity of small fish strictly necessary to survive.

We human beings constantly disturb the equilibrium in nature for our own egoistic needs. We need our ever more sophisticated food and we need our commodities and our space. For our food we empty the oceans, hunt and extinguish many species of animals, breed other species and slaughter them professionally.

We destroy forests to provide for timber, cellulose and to create space for crops and living. We extract the earth’s natural resources for locomotion and manufacturing. Our needs grow exponentially with the development of science and the increase in numbers in population. We must compromise on all fronts to keep ourselves and nature alive. Most of all we must remain realistic.

Australians must keep the natural balance of their territory under control. There is just that much land, food and water available for all, human beings, animals and plants alike. Unless Australians want to starve and endure economic hardship they need so much land for their crops and herds, which leaves so much land for other species, amongst them the kangaroos.

At one time the kangaroo population was threatened with extinction and the Australian government prohibited the indiscriminate cull of kangaroos by regulating the number of roos that could be killed by one single hunter, something similar to the deer quota enacted in the US. Thanks to this regulation, the kangaroo is still amongst us and, as it happens, in ever increasing numbers.

Kangaroos have few or no natural enemies after taking out the dingo to keep their numbers at a naturally balanced level. Therefore, if there were no regulations for responsible culling, the kangaroos would destroy crops and consume water in ever increasing quantities in order to keep alive and prospering, threatening the natural balance.

The kangaroo population of Australia is estimated to be at around 60 million by some, three times as much as the human population of the country. The number of roos that may be legally culled this year is 6.9 million. Hence if each female has one joey per year you look at close to 10 million births to restock. The roo is definitely not an endangered species.

Due to droughts, the kangaroos are desperate because they are starving and they have besieged towns in Central Victoria in their search for food. There is simply not enough food and water for them.

The alternative to having a large number of starving aggressive and desperate animals is to cull them, reduce their numbers to make the available food last for all. Alternatives to the shooting of kangaroos have been experimented on a small scale like vasectomies for the males and hormone implants for the females. This doesn’t seem practical or economically feasible considering the numbers of animals involved.

Australian farmers have always considered kangaroos a pest. These apparently highly intelligent animals are able to organise themselves in operational units to raid a farm for food and water. In extreme circumstances, they are known to have attacked other animals and humans.

In order to keep the kangaroos out of the populated areas, off the roads where they are a hazard for themselves and for the traffic, animalists have suggested the building of solar powered electrical fences. That indeed is a solution to keep them away from doing harm, but it does not resolve the food problem, nor does it keep them from breeding and increasing their number with the need for still more food.

The culling of kangaroos is unfortunately a necessity, not some cruel sport and, as such, people including animal lovers, environmentalists and roo huggers, must accept these facts. Previously kangaroos were shot and buried, or at best used for pet food. In many cases the skins were buried with the carcases rather than being used for leather.

If the cull is properly organised and monitored, the culled animals can provide both leather and meat. In fact almost 5&bsquo;000 tons of kangaroo meat are now sold abroad, mainly to Germany, France, Belgium and Holland, where it is eaten as steaks, used in sausages, burgers and delicatessen products.

Yes the kangaroo is Australia’s national symbol and, yes, they are cute. But no, you cannot let them run the country!

Sam Setter