I am horrified to hear that you are now selling kangaroo meat. It is this trade which helps drive what is currently the biggest massacre of land animals on the planet.
Around six million kangaroos were earmarked for slaughter in 2013 (a massive increase of nearly two million from last year). This doesnt include the baby kangaroos (joeys) that are not even used by the meat and leather industries, but are simply thrown away. An adult female kangaroo will usually have two youngsters with her: a baby kangaroo in pouch and an adolescent at foot. This slaughter is supposedly governed by guidelines. However, these guidelines advocate pulling baby joeys from their dying mothers pouch and smashing them around the head and/or decapitating them. The adolescents are meant to be shot, but many will escape the carnage and die of predation from other wild animals. For almost every female kangaroo killed to fill your freezers with kangaroo meat, two other lives will be snuffed out. Around a million baby kangaroos die each year because of the trade in kangaroo parts. There can be no justification for this.
It is also impossible to truly assess the welfare of the adults that are shot, as this is invariably done at night in the Outback. Away from the glare of public scrutiny, millions are shot every year and the Australian RSPCA has estimated that around 100,000 adults are not killed humanely and some may temporarily survive with horrific wounds, such as having their jaws shot off.
All other UK supermarkets have pledged not to sell kangaroo meat and removed it from their shelves over a decade ago. Popularising the meat, as you are doing, will simply lead to more bloodshed and drive even greater numbers of baby kangaroos to be killed.
A chemical called L-carnitine is present in all red meat but kangaroo meat has more per gram than any other meat. Research from 2013 associates L-carnitine consumption with a build-up of fatty deposits in blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease, strokes and heart attacks. Have you made your customers aware of these risks?
Please follow the lead of other major businesses in the UK and pledge not to sell kangaroo meat. Until this happens, I will boycott your stores and encourage and of my friends and family to do likewise.
[Your name and address]
Response to Lidl reply
Have you received a reply from Lidl? Below we destroy their weak justifications for selling dead wildlife (Lidl text in bold). Use it to write back to them:
We refer to your recent correspondence regarding the welfare and hunting process for the kangaroo steaks we currently sell at Lidl stores as part of a food specials campaign.
Kangaroos are abundant in Australia and are sustainably harvested under strict government control. The population numbers are constantly monitored by the National Park Authorities.
Kangaroos are certainly not as abundant as they used to be. They have been wiped out in many regions. In others, their numbers build up in order to withstand the regular droughts which wipe out half the population. Since 2001 (compared to 2011) there has been an overall drop of 23,126,349 kangaroos (according to the Australian Government's own figures) in the areas where they are hunted. The official quota ignores joeys, road deaths, illegal and non-commercial kills. This annual death toll could amount to 10 million - a patently unsustainable figure.
Many professional ecologists support the agricultural production systems on kangaroos and other native animals rather than introduced livestock like sheep or cattle, as it offers considerable ecological advantages to the fragile Australian rangelands and could save greenhouse gas emissions.
Just because the farming of hard-hoofed animals such as sheep and cattle has helped destroy the fragile ground soil in many parts of Australia does not mean that plundering a native species is a sensible alternative. It is also ironic that Lidl are trying to justify selling kangaroo as a 'green alternative' considering the sizeable greenhouse gases are generated by transporting it literally from one side of the Earth to the other.
Several trials have indicated that uncontrolled kangaroo numbers present a risk to plant biodiversity. Kangaroos cannot be commercially harvested in National Parks, as a result their numbers often rise to staggering levels which sometimes require culling programs to be used to protect and save rare or threatened plant species.
This makes no sense. Why are Lidl trying to justify selling kangaroo meat by talking about National Parks where kangaroos cannot be "commercially harvested"? Also, they can't have it both ways. In the paragraph above Lidl say that kangaroos are more in keeping with the Australian environment (after all they have evolved over millennia to live in harmony with it), but then say kangaroos are a threat to it. If there really was a problem - and this was really about conservation - why couldn't non-lethal methods of population control be considered? The answer is that it does not make a profit. They may try and justify the trade in kangaroo meat as conservation, but that isn't true. It is commercialisation of wildlife driven by profit and that can be disastrous.
Our supplier confirmed that the animals are only being harvested by professionally trained hunters. Each kangaroo harvester must be licensed and undergo training delivered by government accredited agencies, which includes animal welfare controls, hygiene controls as well as their competency with their firearms amongst others. These hunters are monitored by the veterinary office and each kangaroo that is harvested must be reported to the authorities. The number of kangaroos to be harvested is strictly monitored to ensure the harvest in any one area does not exceed the quota. The kangaroos are being head shot and are immediately killed (the Federal Government document 'Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos' requires that all animals are head shot). After the animal is shot from a specified distance the hunter guts the animal on the spot.
No one monitors, let alone controls, the real-time killing in the field. Kangaroos are shot at night in the vast outback, far away from public scrutiny. "Shooters often have a thorough contempt for the law. They commit cruelty on a regular basis." (Dr John Auty, veterinary scientist and former Chief Agronomist).
Research by the RSPCA in Australia and Animal Liberation NSW has suggested that around 120,000 kangaroos a year are not shot in the head and killed immediately. The number could be much higher (according to Thinkk (University of Technology Sydney) up to a million) as there is no one there to monitor the many kangaroos shot but not killed outright that will escape into the bush to die a slow, painful death.
Ex-kangaroo shooter, David Nicholls, exposed the industry: "The mouth of a kangaroo can be blown off and the kangaroo can escape to die of shock and starvation. Forearms can be blown off, as can ears, eyes and noses. Stomachs can be hit expelling the contents with the kangaroo still alive. Backbones can be pulverized to an unrecognizable state etc. Hind legs can be shattered with the kangaroo desperately trying to get away on the other or without the use of either. To deny that this goes on is just an exercise in attempting to fool the public."
A vet then checks if the animal is healthy. Our supplier furthermore assured us that the hunters are trained not to shoot gestating or young animals.
The animal isn't healthy. The animal is dead! The reason that the vet is there is to check if they have been killed with a shot to the head (another reason why those that weren't will be simply dumped and not included in the official tally).
There are also health issues to humans. Kangaroos are butchered in the outback and then transported to chillers sometimes many, many miles away.
Kangaroos are shot out of the back of trucks criss-crossing the vast outback at the dead of night. How exactly is a shooter to know that a female is gestating exactly? In most cases they won't be able to.
In the few cases when a female with a joey is taken, the Code lays out strict guidelines on how to deal with these. This Code was written by a group of the most informed and independent scientists in the field and details best practice.
This is hardly a few cases. Even 20 per cent of six million is 1.2 million females shot each year - and female kangaroos are usually permanently pregnant. Thinkk says: "
every year 855,000 dependent young die as a waste product of the commercial kill."
Yes, there are guidelines but it doesn't hide the fact that 'unwanted' baby joeys ripped from their dying mothers' pouch are killed in the most brutal way imaginable. The official guidelines state for furless young: "Single forceful blow to the base of the skull sufficient to destroy the functional capacity of the brain." OR "Stunning, immediately followed by decapitation by rapidly severing the head from the body with a sharp blade" For furred young: "Single forceful blow to the base of the skull sufficient to destroy the functional capacity of the brain." After this their lifeless bodies are simply dumped as 'trash'.
Of the 25% of females taken only 20% (5% of the total) at any one time can be expected to have 'young at foot'. The fate of these is the most contentious issue for many examining the welfare aspects of the harvest. However, further research currently being finalised has indicated that these adolescents survive the removal of their mothers with surprisingly little stress and quickly adjust to independence.
If true Lidl are conveniently forgetting the pouch young that will be brained or decapitated by hunters. Even one joey ripped from his dying mother's pouch and killed or adolescent shot as she tries to escape the rifle fire of the hunter their bodies thrown away and not even used by the industry that killed them is one too many.
Also, we'd be interested to see this 'research'. Everything we have ever seen suggests that adolescents will starve to death without the protection of their mothers. They are after all still with their mothers and are not ready to be independent of them. The Code of Practice contradicts this by stating that shooters should kill adolescents that have been orphaned: "Single shot to the brain or heart where it can be delivered accurately and in safety using the firearms and ammunition." Why would it do this if adolescents were able to survive as Lidl suggests?
Also, the breakdown of the sexes taken is troubling. Lidl are apparently playing down the number of females taken. However, this also raises the question: what type of conservation project would target one sex over another (up to 80 per cent male)? The real reason that more males are taken is that they are bigger and so each carcass produces more meat.
Kangaroo meat is widely consumed in Australia and it has played an important part in the traditional Aboriginal diet as a bush food. Today it is widely available in supermarkets and restaurants and is exported to over 55 countries.
Until relatively recently, Australians wouldn't touch kangaroo meat. Much of it still goes into 'pet' food. We are also told by Australian wildlife groups that it is an overestimation that it is sold widely across Australia.
As for Aboriginal diets, what has that got to do with a budget supermarket selling kangaroo meat in Britain? Also, a number of Indigenous elders have expression strong opposition to the commercial and non-commercial killing of kangaroos (such as the Australian Alliance for Native Animal Survival).
It is ideal for maintaining a balanced diet and has been approved by the Australian Heart Foundation, as it is low in cholesterol and fat and high in protein and minerals iron, zinc and omega 3.
The idea that kangaroo meat is somehow a healthy alternative has widely been debunked earlier this year. Recent research shows kangaroo meat has a higher amount of a chemical linked to increased risks of heart attack and stroke than any other red meat.
Also, dangerous levels of salmonella and E.coli have been found in kangaroo meat destined for human consumption.
Lidl UK takes issues of animal welfare as well as environmental protection very seriously and only sources products that meet high standards of food safety and hygiene, animal welfare and environmental protection which are in line with EU and UK standards.
If Lidl take animal welfare seriously why are they buying into an industry where baby animals have their heads smashed in and then thrown away as 'trash'?
We hope the information provided has addressed the issues you raised and will reassure you that the standards of welfare of the kangaroo and harvesting methods used are to the same level, as other types of meats which can be found on UK supermarket shelves./p>
Kangaroos are shot at night from the back of trucks in the middle of nowhere. Whilst the killing of any animal for meat causes suffering and that is why Viva! suggests veganism as the best way to end suffering it is wrong to suggest that these two methods are comparable.
Assuring you of our best intentions at all times.
Please stop selling kangaroo meat then. At the moment you are the only supermarket in the UK trying to justify a trade that can only exist by shooting, braining or decapitating around a million baby and dependent young animals a year and throwing them away as 'trash'.