Aunty Ro is a Documentary Journalist and Indigenous Educator fighting against the unjust killing of millions of Kangaroos every year, victims of the world’s largest slaughter of wild animals on land. She explains how the cruel and unnecessary killing of kangaroos has a devastating effect on Country, wildlife and culture.
Aunty Ro can you explain why the fight for the lives of the kangaroos in Australia is more important than ever? And what are the major implications of this mass killing?
Basically they are being slaughtered into extinction. When Europeans first set foot on this Country it wasn’t done so in peace, it was done to conquer and destroy. We Indigenous people needed to get out of their way given we apparently know nothing, and that mindset of Colonialism continues today.
The ideology of Colonialism saw the Europeans class any herbivore as a threat to their Introduced Farm Animals and that threat needed to be “managed” otherwise the Colony wouldn’t, in their opinion, survive. This mindset saw the Thylacine “managed” into extinction and the Koala in QLD almost “managed” into extinction. Now it’s the turn of the Kangaroo.
The colonial rhetoric used to justify this killing continues throughout generations, almost word for word. The key words remain, they being, overabundant, plagues, threat and management. With the Europeans also came the behaviours of culling wildlife which prior to their arrival was non-existent. So over decades Kangaroos have been systematically gunned down, trapped, poisoned, strung up in fences, run off their Ancestral Homeland and treated as a pest by those who are indeed themselves the introduced pest.
The Government saw an opportunity to profit from the slaughter of Kangaroos back in the 70’s and thought it might also be a good way to destroy Culture thus making Aboriginal People more… White. The roots of the Government legislated Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry are planted firmly in Colonialism and Racism.
photo; Lynda Hinton
But Kangaroos are essential to the biodiversity of Country. In seed dispersal etc, their large toenails leave indentations in Country as do their claws which then aerates soils and keeps soil ecology healthy. They mitigate bushfire impacts by grazing undergrowth and top grazing foliage which then triggers regenerative growth.
Their Pooh is full of nutrition and also seeds so this again aids the regeneration of Country. Seeds also attached to the fur of a Kangaroo are also dispersed that way. They are essential in keeping Country healthy and in keeping the Story of Ancestors alive. With the thuds of their feet and tails on Country, vibrations travel far and wide providing spiritual regeneration and ensuring that the interconnectedness of all remains strong. Take this away and all that is gone.
The roots of the Government legislated Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry are planted firmly in Colonialism and Racism.
In 2020 alone there was a decline in NSW of an estimated Four million Kangaroos with increasing habitat loss being accommodated by the Unsustainable Farming Sector, which is also fuelling Drought and in turn resulting in surface temperature increases causing more intense Bushfires. As a result we are losing more and more Kangaroos. Add on top of that the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry, which is resulting in localised extinctions. What we see is a species living on borrowed time.
Now more than ever it’s imperative that we stop this killing.
You are extremely dedicated to the cause of the kangaroos. What drives you?
Given that Kangaroo is my Family Totem it’s my responsibility to protect these Ancient Animals. They are my spiritual connection to Ancestors and they are very wise teachers from whom we have so much to learn. I know how important it is to save these animals and the consequences that will impact all our lives if we don’t.
How are Kangaroos of Cultural, Social & Spiritual significance?
Well I can’t speak on behalf of all Aboriginal people and mobs but to my family and myself, Kangaroo are a Sacred Totem Animal. My Family, going back several generations on my mothers side, are from Flinders Island in Tasmania. They were taken from there by the Europeans and transported to Tasmania, then transported to mainland Australia where they were put to work on Woomargama Station in Albury. It was a Cattle Station and that’s where my mother brought up the family without my Pop who was an alcoholic, up and left when Mum was 16 and settled on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Mum, eventually marrying and settling again, this time in the Blue Mountains NSW, where I live today.
We know Kangaroo as Tarner, a Sacred Totem Animal. They are a Creator Spirit to us. Tarner formed Rivers, Valleys and Creeks then morphed from a Kangaroo into a man and was able to travel to the Mainland. Totem is a natural object, plant or animal that is inherited by members of a Clan, Mob or Family as their spiritual emblem. Totem defines people’s roles and responsibilities; and their relationship with each other and creation.
Is eating kangaroo part of the indigenous traditional diet?
Kangaroo isn’t a part of the indigenous traditional diet given many of we Indigenous people hold Kangaroo as Totem. Different Mobs had and have different Traditional Foods, for some it’s the Murnong, for others Turtle, others Goanna and so on and so forth.We Indigenous people were never into mass slaughter of Wildlife, that’s the White man’s domain. Traditional Hunting is done so on a need to survive basis or for ceremonial purposes. Initiated Men would hunt and do so according to strict lores and protocols and Totem Animals were never hunted.
What are dreaming tracks and why are they so important?
Song lines, Dreaming Tracks, Dreaming Pathways differ again with individual mobs, and are quite complex, however basically they are pathways of knowledge that map the routes, tracks, pathways of Ancestral Beings as they moved across Country. Therefore they provide us with connections to Ancestors and form an essential base in the core of Indigenous Culture.
With the thuds of their feet and tails on Country, vibrations travel far and wide providing spiritual regeneration and ensuring that the interconnectedness of all remains strong.
What are some of the major myths about kangaroos, and other wild animals, with regards to sustainability, that need to be busted? Are there really too many kangaroos as we are led to believe Or is it pure and simple commercial gain?
There are so many myths that need to be busted that I don’t know where to begin! Let’s see, so Kangaroo populations are not actually counted, they are estimated, by using correction factors to artificially bolster numbers to biologically impossible populations. All this is done so the Government legislated Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry appears to be on paper .. sustainable, yet it can’t be given that nothing based on an estimate is in actuality, sustainable.
It’s also biologically impossible for kangaroos to reach the reproduction status of plagues, that’s another Industry and Government spin line.
Kangaroos do not negatively impact their own Ancestral Home, again Colonialism is a tool used by the Unsustainable Farming Sector, Industry and Government to try and justify the continuing slaughter. “Kangaroos exert only 2-5% of total grazing pressure in Australia. We should be worrying about the damage being caused by 95-98% grazing pressure instead of shooting out our remaining wildlife” – Mr Ray Mjadwesch. Conservation Biologist/Ecologist.
Kangaroos do not negatively impact their own Ancestral Home
Why aren’t we seeing what the indigenous people have been seeing for thousands of years- the beauty, knowledge and vast environmental benefits of sharing a world and home with the kangaroos?
I think that’s a very good question that should be asked of Non -Indigenous People…why indeed aren’t a lot of Non-Indigenous People seeing, really seeing, the magnificent beauty of our Ancient Kangaroos, could it be that many are blinded by Colonialism which irresponsibly & ignorantly demonises these Ancient Storytellers as Pests.
What changes would you like to see in Australian culture with regards to wildlife, animal agriculture and people’s attitudes?
Wow! Big question, where to start! I think the main thing is that we have to start educating people with facts which we attempt to do here in the Mr Boo Kangaroo Ranger Education Program
https://kangaroorangers.com/about-us/welcome-from-traditional-land-owner/ And, calling out the Colonialism that has already caused and continued to cause so much destruction. Unfortunately I don’t think I will see that happen anytime soon given colonialism is so ingrained in some, especially for example The Unsustainable Farming Sector.
I think we now are seeing people’s attitudes change given they are seeing the destruction happening in the Country, they are seeing Kangaroos disappearing, they are seeing an increase in Dust Storms for example, rivers dying and vast habitats being destroyed, all of this fuelled by colonialism. Finally we are seeing more people standing up and saying enough is enough. I wonder though, is this reaction all too late? Only time will tell.
You can go to Aunty Ro Mudyin Godwin’s amazing
Please leave a comment below. Any kind and constructive comments welcome. Thank you x
Here are various other links given by Aunty Ro so you can really get the full story of the plight of the kangaroos.
All of it.
It is. Thank you for your comment
Kia ora ! Thank you a great interview! Yes we are the introduced pests!!
Hahaha. Thank you for your comment! x
No Australian Government, Federal or State and very few local councils, will act to limit population growth, because the failed economic theory of the European empire builders measure economic health by measuring gross domestic product: the more stuff made and services created, sold and consumed, means the rich get richer, the sheople get fleeced and the wounded and miserable stay that way – it is an utterly, utterly heartless, morally bankrupt system. So, more people, more urban “development”, local councils under pressure and enticement from multi-billionaire developers – more human residents, more rates, more pay for councils – clear the bush, buy up the farmland abandoned by families who can’t hack the work and the farm-budget-busting droughts. Now the remnant roos hopping around the edges of regional cities and the chain of towns and real estate development on any coastal fringe that isn’t a declared National Park (which developers will keep pushing to have shrunk back from the real-estate-gold beachfront and then push for more land to meet the demand for residential areas.) What hope for the wildlife and natural environment? If we, who want to be Earth-connected nature-guardians get up and active, only then is there any hope. First Nations Australians with cultural and lived histories of 10s of 1000s of years developed a spiritual, sociological, land-management and economic system for sustainable and enjoyable life. What’ve WE got – a society that breeds self-centred but miserable populations where neighbours don’t know each other and 24/7 distraction therapy with TV, eat eat eat, endless, pointless inanity leaves us depressed & wondering what the hell is wrong with me. We are not living the right way – think we’re the centre of the universe, pluk the animals, pluk the rivers, pluk the forests and frack the Mother Earth’s insides. Until empire-originated money-worshipping, materialist, consumer mentality spread across the world, humans saw themselves as part of the natural world not just a few ruthless countries richest to be the rulers of it. In a handful of centuries the entire biosphere that is Earth is threatened by humans with becoming uninhabitable by humans and millions of other types of life. I’ll be going to Aunty Ro Mudyin Godwin’s amazing website for sure – need some inspiration to keep the hopeful heart alive involved and active. Apologies for too many words.
Hi Michael. Please never apologise for speaking such true words. If only there were more people like yourself. Aunty Ro is indeed an inspiration! The whole situation is very bleak when we consider how corrupt, oppressive and broken our systems are. like you say we need to keep the hopeful heart alive. I for one hope that the First Nation Australians have more of a say in the matter. I truly believe the indigenous nations need to regain their power for any positive fundamental change to occur. Thank you for sharing and stay true to your heart. Emily xx
Thank you so much for caring!
It always takes an overseas person to bring the most light to the darkest truths!
Love Aunty Ro’s passion and commitment and knowledge.
Thank you for your comment. Aunty Ro is indeed an amazing woman!