A kangaroo looks at the camera, ears perked up, standing in long grass.

Kangaroo shooting is mass-slaughter of wildlife for profit.

Kangaroos are being shot and injured, and joeys decapitated, bludgeoned or left to suffer and die. Find out about the impacts of kangaroo shooting in Australia.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated October 22, 2020

Few people are aware that Australia’s national icon has become the target of a brutal slaughter. Kangaroo shooting in Australia is mass-killing by a commercial industry.

Even after the devastating 2019-20 summer fires ravaged much of the country, the Australian Federal Government continued to give shooters a green light to kill millions of these gentle animals — all for the sake of profit.

Kangaroos are being slaughtered purely for money — fuelled by the international trade in kangaroo ‘leather’ and meat products. Not only is the trade unnecessary and inherently cruel, as highlighted in the acclaimed documentary film ‘Kangaroo — a Love-Hate story’, experts are warning that the relentless slaughter is placing increased pressure on kangaroo numbers, putting the future of this unique species at risk.

Hidden far from the eyes of the public, the commercial kangaroo kill occurs in isolated locations, often in the remote Australian outback, that make effective monitoring nearly impossible. ‘Useless’ orphaned joeys are decapitated or swung forcibly against a towbar. Some simply starve or are picked off by predators without the care of their mum. Of the millions of native kangaroos who are shot and killed every year, it’s unknown how many more escape wounded, only to endure a long and painful death.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

An orphaned joey lays on the ground.
The Code of Practice that's supposed to regulate kangaroo shooting in Australia for commercial purposes advises shooters that after they have shot a mother kangaroo, to 'euthanase' any young joey by decapitation or smashing their head against a surface like a ute bumper. Any joey who escapes faces a slow and painful death from exposure (cold, starvation, thirst) or being killed by predators.
Image credit: Kangaroo: The Movie

But… kangaroos are native animals. Doesn’t that mean they’re protected from cruelty and mass-slaughter?

Sadly, no. The laws around kangaroo shooting in Australia vary. In five Australian states (Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria), the legal protections that usually apply to native wildlife are lifted so that kangaroos can be shot under commercial licences.

There is what is known as a ‘National Code of Practice’ in place that is meant to apply to this slaughter, but it is impossible to effectively enforce as shooting occurs in remote areas at night — meaning there is no oversight. It’s also important to realise that this Code specifically allows for the decapitation and bludgeoning of joeys to death.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A rescued young joey approaches a vet
Image credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media

A young survivor of the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20 with wildlife veterinarian Dr Howard Ralph of Southern Cross Wildlife Care.

The 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires had a devastating impact on animal populations and their habitats. Vets, wildlife carers, rescuers and emergency personnel worked around the clock to save wildlife like kangaroos who were fortunate enough to survive the flames only to face months of laborious, intensive care.

To think that caring volunteers have been lovingly tending to the survivors of the fires to get them healthy enough to return them to the wild, knowing that they could face brutal treatment and death at the hands of shooters — all in the name of profit — is not only heart-wrenching, but an insult to these dedicated wildlife heroes.

Billions of native animals were lost and vast swathes of natural habitat were destroyed in the fires. Conflated with the ongoing threat of the climate crisis and Australia’s abysmal record of ecosystem destruction and species loss, Australia’s wildlife need protection — not slaughter, now more than ever.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

The bodies of dozens of killed kangaroos, with their heads and tails chopped off, strung upside down in the back of a truck.
Many people are horrified to learn about Australia’s mass-slaughter of iconic kangaroos and the callous killing of vulnerable joeys.
Image credit: Kangaroo Industry – Dirty Graphic Truth

This mass killing of precious wildlife is inherently cruel — it causes terror to the animals who are hunted down in the black of night, many of who endure painful deaths. And of course, it is cruel to their young, who are left completely vulnerable to brutal bludgeoning, decapitation or slow and painful starvation on their own.

The fact that this iconic animal is subjected to a brutal mass-slaughter horrifies international audiences — and yet most Australians are unaware of the truth about the nightly cruelty of this profit-driven industry.

What can I do to help end kangaroo shooting in Australia?

There are a number of ways to help kangaroos — being empowered to change how these animals are treated starts with being informed. You can learn more about the issue of kangaroo shooting here, or by streaming the acclaimed documentaryKangaroo: a love hate story”. Here are some other meaningful ways to help roos and their joeys:

  1. If you live in Victoria, your voice is currently especially powerful in the lead-up to the state election! Speak up here to call for Victorian kangaroos and their joeys to be protected.
  2. Add your voice to calls for an end to the commercial slaughter of kangaroos Australia-wide.
  3. Pledge to never buy kangaroo meat or other products
  4. Check out the Centre for a Humane Economy’s global campaign to dissuade Nike and other major brands from using kangaroo leather in their sports shoes.
  5. Contact Australia’s major supermarkets Coles & Woolworths (via feedback form) and ask them to stop supporting the cruel kangaroo killing industry