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News 338 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Scientists: step up kangaroo production

Australian scientists have revealed a study that could have profound consequences for both the feed market and the climate: eat more kangaroos.

According to the study, farming and consuming more kangaroos instead of cattle and sheep will reduce carbon gas emissions.

The scientists say in the scientific journal Conservation Letters, that the Australian icon produces far less methane than sheep and cattle, obviously due to a different gastro-intestinal tract and different diet components.

Methane
Methane is one of the worst causes of greenhouse gas and in Australia alone sheep and cattle produce 11% of the nation's total emissions.

Australia's national symbol, the kangaroo, however, produces relatively small amounts of the gas because they are not ruminants; just like wallabies, the microorganisms in their stomachs differ from those found in sheep and cattle.

Lower gas emissions
The study, conducted by George Wilson (Australian Wildlife Services), claims that increasing the kangaroo population to 175 million and decreasing the number of livestock over the next 12 years would bring down Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 3% on a yearly basis.

Dr Wilson said that increasing the number of kangaroos that roam Australia – now estimated to be over 30 million – to produce the same amount of meat as cattle and sheep by 2020 would also provide 'substantial conservation benefits'.

Livestock industry
Wilson acknowledged that the livestock industry was likely to be wary of the study's findings and said that the public – at least in Australia – would need to be re-educated about the benefits of eating kangaroo meat.

The President of the Wildlife Protection Association of Australia, Pat O'Brien, described the study as nonsense. He said that 500 times more kangaroos than the current population would have to be killed to produce the equivalent amount of sheep and cattle meat.

Related websites:
Conservation Letters
Wildlife Protection Association of Australia
Australian Wildlife Services

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