Letter: Kangaroo meat

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Sir: Neil Blewett, the Australian High Commissioner, is incorrect in his assertion that there has been a dramatic increase in the kangaroo population (Letters, 11 October). The Australian government's own figures from aerial surveys showed in 1996 the lowest population for 11 years, yet the highest commercial kill on record (5.2 million) occurred in that same year.

Mr Blewett maintains that the "cull is carried out by professional shooters who are licensed and must comply with strict laws". However, a licensed kangaroo shooter receives only two days' instruction on hygiene, with no training whatsoever in marksmanship.

Nor can the processing of kangaroo meat be compared with the processing of meat in abattoirs, since the slaughtered kangaroos are gutted at the killing site without supervision. Furthermore, there are documented cases in Australia of parasite infections as a result of consumption of kangaroo meat. Doctors raised their concern at a recent medical conference in Tasmania after the discovery of yet another health-threatening parasite in wallaby meat.

Finally, Mr Blewett failed to mention the additional, appalling cruelty involved in the kangaroo "cull" when over a million joeys (baby kangaroos) are brutally killed each year when their mothers are slaughtered for meat. This figure should be taken into account as part of the killing quota and as part of the grim reality of the kangaroo industry.

SALLY WILSON

Australia/Asia Coordinator

International Fund for Animal Welfare

Crowborough, East Sussex

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