Biocultural Diversities

Human-Kangaroo Relations: Reconciling Knowledges, Perceptions, and Practices

Investigating the diverse perceptions, knowledges and practices shaping kangaroo-human relations in Australia.

Image by Hans Pols.

Native to the continent, targeted as pest, and exploited for their meat and hide, kangaroos occupy a unique yet conflictual position in Australian social and ecological imaginaries. Contestations over this interspecies relation emerge strongly in the context of kangaroo culling, conservation and consumption, and their divergent ethical, economic and environmental dimensions. Culling seeks to limit the impacts of kangaroo over-abundance on the rural ecosystems upon which farmers’ livelihoods depend. In its commercial form, kangaroo harvesting provides an arguably more environmentally friendly and ethical alternative to livestock rearing. This reasoning, however, is challenged by scientists and animal welfare activists who advocate the protection of kangaroo from harm and exploitation.

This project aims to uncover the diverse perceptions, knowledges and practices shaping kangaroo-human relations in Australia, and to produce inter-disciplinary knowledge towards more equitable human-wildlife futures. Its four aims are: 1. To investigate how industry, government, scientific, agriculturalist and animal welfare organisations conceptualise kangaroos as native species and pest, food resource and political symbol,; 2. To analyse how knowledge about kangaroos and their relations to humans and ecosystems is produced, communicated, and contested by diverse sectors of Australian society; 3. To develop inter-disciplinary approaches for reconciling economic interests and environmental preservation with the ethical treatment of wildlife.

Recent publication:

Chao, Sophie. 2022. “Bouncing Back? Kangaroo-Human Resistance in Contemporary Australia.” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 1–24. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/25148486221084194.