This small item out of Australia revisits one of my hobby horses. That sound animal husbandry needs to be applied throughout the world and oceans in order to optimize the ecological footprint. This does not happen naturally without human input. What happens naturally is that you get a predator prey boom and bust cycle that usually is ended with major damage to the sustaining environment.
It then starts all over again from a seriously weakened base. This is presently been demonstrated by the global collapse of fisheries due to unmanaged human predation. Both the folly and the cure are obvious but the predators never unite to preserve their futures until extinction is faced and even then they have the option of merely exiting the business and abandoning the wreckage.
We have already visited the clear benefits of a restoration of bison to both its historical range and also to European and Asian ranges in which their counterparts were hunted to extinction. I have also posted on the rising need to commence direct management of the wild deer herds everywhere through ownership and culling. In North America, the herd sizes are becoming visible and thus about to become far too large to be left alone. And in spite of the occasional comments by very silly people, we do not want a rebuilding of the wolf and grizzly populations. Primate children are even easier morsels for these predators.
This article shows we have the same style of problem with the kangaroo in Australia. Prolific herbivores create huge populations in difficult environments because they are adapted to it. They have to be managed and certainly systematically harvested. It is not even a particularly difficult problem because the actual weights of most of these animals are within our normal handling range. The only thing extra that we will likely want to do is to find a way to corral them and fatten them for a short time to reduce any toughness and gaminess in the meat. Again this is all within our ability. The fact that we are easily taming the buffalo bodes very well for the future of this endeavor.
We have learned that the beef animal that we rely on has been pushed into many ecological niches to which it is less suited. We have done this with all our domesticates and it is actually unnecessary. It is not too obvious, but the taste differences between different meat varieties are not all that significant and will even diminish as husbandry takes charge and eliminates the causes of gaminess and other off flavors. We all forget that we are terribly spoiled today when it comes to the meats we eat. Does anyone recall the flavor of old hen and mutton?
North America can possibly produce venison at the same magnitude as it today produces beef without much ecological overlap. The same may partially hold true for kangaroo meat and is certainly true for a huge number of herbivores worldwide. We just have to get into the business of individually owning the animals and then managing their productivity.
As is so well highlighted in this article, the environmental dividend is always positive because we are managing for optimization rather than either replacement or elimination.
Eating kangaroos to combat climate change?
Fri, 08/08/2008 - 1:04pm
TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images
If going green isn't cool anymore in today's economic climate, this recent batch of news isn't going to help. According to a recent study published in the journal Conservation Letters, farming and eating kangaroos instead of cattle and sheep would made a dent in Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.
Unlike sheep and cattle, kangaroos emit little methane, which accounts for 11 percent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. The study suggests that increasing the kangaroo population to 175 million while simultaneously decreasing the number of other livestock would lower emissions by 3 percent over the next 12 years. The plan would have added benefits for soil conservation, drought response, and water quality as a result of reducing the number of hard-hoofed livestock.
Still, there's the small issue of kangaroos being a national icon and all:
The change will require large cultural and social adjustments and reinvestment. One of the impediments to change is protective legislation and the status of kangaroos as a national icon," [the study] said.