Kangaroo harvesting in Australia – quotas & species

On May 11, 2014 by Big_Grey

Grey kangarooMany people outside of Australia have an image of the kangaroo, emu and koala as soft cuddly toys. That they are national icons and presented on our money and coat of arms establishes these native animals as part of Australia folk lore. Originally they were hunted by aboriginals and formed a staple part of their diets, however this leads us to the current state of how kangaroos are harvested.

Kangaroos present a moderately unique proposition on game meats. They are an animal that is native to Australia and have one of the healthiest protein and fat profiles of any meat source in the world. they tend to graze on clean undisturbed lands and so they are organic in nature too.

As discussed in the article on kangaroos and the environment ” kangaroo populations have increased dramatically since European settlement in these areas due to the introduction of European farming methods and, for this reason, carefully controlled harvesting is required.” Ref 1

How is Kangaroo harvesting/ culling done in Australia

“Kangaroo harvesting is carried out under the strict environmental controls provided by the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The commercial harvesting of widespread and abundant kangaroo species contributes to the sustainability of the Australian environment.”

“The four species of kangaroo that are commercially harvested have very large populations. None is threatened or endangered. The Red kangaroo, Eastern grey kangaroo and Western grey kangaroo are the most abundant species and make up over 90 per cent of the commercial harvest. Their combined population size has fluctuated between 15 and 50 million animals over the past 25 years in the harvested areas, depending on seasonal conditions.” ref 1

“The harvesting of kangaroos is permitted on a quota basis that is reviewed annually and independent of market demand. Quotas are set on the basis of population size and trends, and long-term climate predictions. Conservation of the species remains the foremost consideration. This approach ensures that the harvesting of kangaroos is managed in an ecologically sustainable way.”

Kangaroos are only culled in the wild

There is no farming of kangaroos in Australia. Kangaroos are harvested in the wild by licensed hunters. The live export of kangaroos is prohibited under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. There are a few exceptions where the purpose is non-commercial, such as inter-zoo exchanges.”

This is an important point that many people buying kangaroo meat want to know. Since kangaroos travel such large distances in the wild and have such great athleticism, any farming practice would be non humane.

How Kangaroos are caught

“Where kangaroos are taken for commercial use, they must be killed by a licensed, fully trained hunter. An Australian Senate Select Committee on animal welfare, after an extensive investigation, concluded that: ‘There is no doubt that the shooting of kangaroos by professional shooters is the most humane way of killing kangaroos’. Animal welfare considerations are a priority of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Kangaroo harvesting and processing is subject to strict regulations and all hunters face penalties if they do not abide by the National Code of Practice for the Humane Killing of Kangaroos. Compliance with the Code is a licence condition for commercial shooters in all states.” Ref 1

This is probably the most contentious point in the whole process of catching kangaroos.

Because kangaroos cover such large areas and can move so fast the only way to not harm other animals in the culling process has been found to be shooting.

The macropod species and which ones are culled

There are over 60 species of macropods (kangaroos, wallabies etc) in Australia.

These are their classes and number in each sub group: Kangaroo 11, Tree Kangaroo 2, Wallabies 10, Rock Wallabies 20, Nailtail wallabies 2, Pademelons 5, Quokka 1, Hare-wallabies 6, Bettongs 5, Potoroos 4 and Rat Kangaroos 1

Of the total macropod species it is only the largest ones that are in over population that are culled. There are only six sub species out of all the macropods that are culled and ONLY THREE out of these make up the majority of culls: “The Red kangaroo, Eastern grey kangaroo and Western grey kangaroo are the most abundant species and make up over 90 per cent of the commercial harvest”. Ref 2

The subspecies used in the quota system, and for export are shown in bold in the table below:


Species Subspecies Scientific name State
1 Red Kangaroo none Macropus rufus QLD, NSW, VIC, SA, NT, WA
Eastern Grey Kangaroo Mainland Macropus giganteus giganteus QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC
3 Macropus giganteus tasmaniensis TAS
4 Western Grey Kangaroo Mainland Macropus fuliginosus melanops QLD, NSW, VIC, SA, WA
5 Kangaroo Island Macropus fuliginosus fuliginosus SA
6 Common Wallaroo Eastern Wallaroo Macropus robustus robustus QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC
7 Euro Macropus robustus erubescens QLD, NSW, SA, NT, WA
8 Northern Wallaroo Macropus robustus woodwardii NT
9 Barrow Island Wallaroo Macropus robustus isabellinus WA
10 Antilopine Wallaroo none Macropus antilopinus QLD, NT, WA
11 Black Wallaroo none Macropus bernadus NT
12 Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo none Dendrolagus bennettianus QLD
13 Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo none Dendrolagus lumholtzi QLD
14 Agile Wallaby none Macropus agilis QLD, NT, WA
15 Black-striped Wallaby none Macropus dorsalis QLD, NSW
16 Tammar Wallaby Kangaroo Island Macropus eugenii decres SA
17 Mainland Macropus eugenii derbianus WA
18 Kwoora (Western Brush Wallaby) none Macropus irma WA
19 Parma Wallaby none Macropus parma NSW
20 Whiptail Wallaby none Macropus parryi QLD, NSW
21 Red-necked Wallaby Mainland Macropus rufogriseus banksianus QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC
22 Bennett’s Wallaby Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus TAS
23 Swamp Wallaby none Wallabia bicolor QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC, SA
24 Allied Rock-wallaby none Petrogale assimilis QLD
25 Short-eared Rock-wallaby none Petrogale brachyotis NT, WA
26 Monjon none Petrogale burbidgei WA
27 Cape York Rock-wallaby none Petrogale coenensis QLD
28 Narbelek Northern Territory Petrogale concinna concinna NT
29 Kimberley Petrogale concinna monastria WA
30 Godman’s Rock-wallaby none Petrogale godmani QLD
31 Herbert’s Rock-wallaby none Petrogale herberti QLD
32 Unadorned Rock-Wallaby none Petrogale inornata QLD
33 Black-footed Rock-wallaby Recherche Archipelago Petrogale lateralis hacketti WA
34 Mainland Petrogale lateralis lateralis WA, NT
35 Pearson Island Petrogale lateralis pearsoni SA
36 Mareeba Rock-wallaby none Petrogale mareeba QLD
37 Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby none Petrogale penicillata QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC
38 Proserpine Rock-wallaby none Petrogale persephone QLD
39 Purple-necked Rock-wallaby none Petrogale purpureicollis QLD
40 Rothchild’s Rock-wallaby none Petrogale rothschildi WA
41 Sharman’s Rock-wallaby none Petrogale sharmani QLD
42 Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby Queensland Petrogale xanthopus celeris QLD
43 South Australia & New South Wales Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus NSW, SA
44 Bridled Nailtail Wallaby none Onychogalea fraenata QLD
45 Northern Nailtail Wallaby none Onychogalea unguifera QLD, NT, WA
46 Tasmanian Pademelon none Thylogale billardierii TAS
47 Red-legged Pademelon Cape York Thylogale stigmatica coxenii QLD
48 North Queensland Thylogale stigmatica stigmatica QLD
49 South Queensland & New South Wales Thylogale stigmatica wilcoxi QLD, NSW
50 Red-necked Pademelon none Thylogale thetis QLD, NSW
51 Quokka none Setonix brachyurus WA
52 Spectacled Hare-wallaby Barrow Island Lagochestes conspicillatus conspicillatus WA
53 Mainland Lagochestes conspicillatus leichardti QLD, NT, WA
54 Mala (Rufous Hare-wallaby) Mainland Lagochestes hirsutis hirsutis NT
55 Bernier Island Lagochestes hirsutis bernieri WA
56 Dorré Island Lagochestes hirsutis dorreae WA
57 Banded Hare-wallaby none Lagostrophus fasciatus WA
58 Rufous Bettong none Aepyprymnus rufescens QLD, NSW
59 Tasmanian Bettong none extant Bettongia gaimardi cuniculus TAS
60 Boodie (Burrowing Bettong) none Bettongia lesueur WA
61 Woylie (Brush-tailed Bettong) none extant Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi WA
62 Northern Bettong none Bettongia tropica QLD
63 Gilbert’s Potoroo none Potorous gilbertii WA
64 Long-footed Potoroo none Potorous longipes VIC
65 Long-nosed Potoroo Tasmanian Potorous tridactylis apicalis TAS
66 Mainland Potorous tridactylis tridactylis NSW, VIC
67 Musky Rat-kangaroo none Hypsiprymnodon moschatus


Ref 1   http://www.dfat.gov.au/facts/kangaroos.html

Ref 2 http://www.rootourism.com/fact.htm

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