The worst case scenario – as little as 1 or 2% of kangaroo populations remaining through some regions – is an alarming one. The author has reviewed a large section of the literature with regard to kangaroos and their management in NSW in preparing this nomination, and has included many papers from other Australian states and overseas, and this scenario seems to be the most likely one.
The most rudimentary risk analysis, where severe losses (90%) may have already been incurred, and where numerous threatening processes are active, should suggest that immediate intervention is required.
Author’s Recommendation: Cessation of Shooting With Immediate Effect
Managers such as OEH-NPWS and DSEWPC cannot assume that crashing kangaroo populations are going to miraculously recover without a higher degree of protection. The only option, if the precautionary principle is to be applied, is to declare a moratorium on all hunting and shooting of kangaroos, and reclamation of all unused tags, while conflicting claims about their status (“more than there ever were” vs worst case scenario of only 1-2% remaining) are resolved.
Before anything like recovery planning can commence, or anything like a resumption of a harvest should occur, there needs to be competent and scientifically rigorous counts of kangaroos conducted.
This nomination proposes a standardised count methodology that has no observer error, or need for correction factors or their corollary.
Simply mounting a camera (or cameras) on an aeroplane (or helicopter) and counting kangaroos systematically (in slow motion or in stop motion mode) will provide accurate and actual counts, which can be attributed to various habitat types, and extrapolated after ground-truthing, to provide landscape scale population estimates. There will be no cost for “trained” observers, who apparently miss up to 90% of the animals in any case, given Pople & Grigg (1999) provide correction factors of up to 10.1 for Eastern Grey Kangaroos in open habitats at Longreach (that is: count 1, times by 10). This is admittedly better than the count-26-and-multiply-by-1456, which Cairns does with Wallaroos.
The proposed camera (recorded) survey methodology will represent a cheaper and more effective and accurate survey methodology, which can be checked by independent researchers. However the author would not have faith in the capacity of the existing “experts” (those persons who have been conducting surveys over the last 30 years), to conduct such work, given their poor track record to date (apparently they remain unaware of regional declines being shown in their data). The funding sources for research, and a pro-harvest stance on the part of many of the researchers, only throws more uncertainty over the science supporting the “sustainable harvest” argument.
There needs to be new and demonstrably independent (unaffiliated) and competent researchers brought into the kangaroo management sector, to conduct comprehensive surveys, which should inform the recovery of the species.