Kangaroo meat is produced in Australia from wild kangaroos and is exported to over 61 overseas markets.[1]

Kangaroo meat at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne

Kangaroo meat is sourced from the 4 main species of kangaroos that are harvested in the wild. It is currently[when?] the largest commercial land-based wildlife trade on the planet. Kangaroo harvesting only occurs in approved harvest zones and quotas are set (usually around 15%-20%) to ensure the sustainability of kangaroo populations. In some places (e.g., Victoria), the harvest quotas have tripled. If numbers approach minimum thresholds harvest zones are closed until populations recover. Kangaroos are harvested by licensed shooters in accordance with a strict code of practice to ensure high standards of both humaneness and food hygiene. Meat that is exported is inspected by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).

The kangaroo has been historically a staple source of protein for some indigenous Australians. Kangaroo meat is very high in protein and very low in fat (about 2%). Kangaroo meat has a very high concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) when compared with other foods. CLA has been attributed with a wide range of health benefits. Kangaroo meat is also processed into pet food. Due to its low fat content, kangaroo meat cannot be cooked in the same way as other red meats, and is typically either slow cooked or quickly stir-fried.

Since kangaroos are shot in the wild, there are a number of hygienic concerns. Harvesters are not required to wear gloves or protective clothing while slaughtering or field dressing the animal. It occurs at night in rural locations. Kangaroo carcasses are hung from the back of an open truck while being transported to field chillers or processors. Dust and flies may cover the carcasses. Cross contamination with other animals such as feral pig and feral deer can also occur as these animals are stored in close proximity. As with other meats, kangaroo meat is known to harbor a number of parasites and pathogens; toxoplasmosis and salmonellosis are two infections with public health significance related to the handling, processing and consumption of kangaroo meat. Russia has banned imports of kangaroo meat due to concerning levels of Escherichia coli that have been detected.[citation needed]



Kangaroo meat is sourced from the 4 main species of kangaroos that are harvested in the wild. Although most species of macropod are protected from non-Aboriginal hunting in Australia by law, a number of the large-sized species which exist in high numbers can be hunted by commercial hunters.[2] This policy has been criticised by some animal rights activists.[3] On the other hand, the kangaroo harvest is supported by some professional ecologists in Australia. Groups such as the Ecological Society of Australia, the Australasian Wildlife Management Society and the Australian Mammal Society have stated their support for kangaroo harvesting. Such groups argue that basing agricultural production systems on native animals rather than introduced livestock like sheep offers considerable ecological advantages to the fragile Australian rangelands and could save greenhouse gas emissions.[4][5]

Though it is impossible to determine the exact number, government conservation agencies in each state calculate population estimates each year. Nearly 40 years of refinement has led to the development of aerial survey techniques which enable overall populations estimates to be constructed.[6] Populations of the large kangaroo species in the commercial harvest zones across Australia vary from approximately 25 to 50 million kangaroos at any given point in time.[7]

Kangaroos are protected by legislation in Australia, both state and federal. Kangaroo harvesting only occurs in approved harvest zones and quotas are set to ensure the sustainability of kangaroo populations. If numbers approach minimum thresholds harvest zones are closed until populations recover. Kangaroos are harvested by licensed shooters in accordance with a strict code of practice to ensure high standards of both humaneness and food hygiene. Meat that is exported is inspected by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).[8][9] In 1981, the Australian meat substitution scandal revealed that kangaroo meat intentionally mislabeled as beef had been exported to the United States and other countries.

Harvest quotas are set by state or territory governments but all commercial harvest plans must be approved by the Australian Government. Only approved species can be harvested and these include: red kangaroo (Macropus rufus), western grey kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus), eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), and common wallaroo (Macropus robustus). Sustainable use quotas are typically between 10 and 20% of estimated kangaroo populations. Total populations are estimated by aerial surveys and a decade of previous data and quota numbers are calculated by government and science organisations to ensure sustainability. Even though quotas are established by each state, very rarely does actual culling reach 35% of the total quotas allowed. For instance, "[i]n the 2015 harvest period, 25.9% of the commercial harvest quota (for Queensland) was utilised".[10] When quotas are not utilised landholders in most states and territories resort to culling overabundant kangaroo populations. As kangaroos are protected, permits are still required but culled carcasses are generally either mass buried in large underground graves or left in paddocks to decompose and not utilised.

Nutrition and products

Kangaroo meat at an Australian supermarket
Kangaroo steak
Kangaroo with thyme served in Helsinki, Finland.
Smoked kangaroo jerky at a store in Richfield, Wisconsin, United States

The Kangaroo has been historically a staple source of protein for Indigenous Australians. Kangaroo meat is very high in protein and very low in fat (about 2%). Kangaroo meat has a very high concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) when compared with other foods. CLA has been attributed with a wide range of health benefits including anti-carcinogenic and anti-diabetes properties, in addition to reducing obesity and atherosclerosis.[8][9][11]

While Kangaroo meat has enjoyed popularity for its organic nature, little information has been available about its nutrition benefits besides articles dedicated to the value of CLA's. While basic nutritional data (total protein, fats etc.) are published worldwide, little research has been provided about the nature of the Kangaroo protein and its composite amino acid profile. Of the 22 amino acids within protein, nine are vital to human and animal well-being because they can't be manufactured in the body. These are called 'essential amino acids' and the primary research on Kangaroo muscle meat nutrition is from a seminal research paper by the primary Australian government science organisation CSIRO in 1970.[12]

Using this research paper as a primary data source essential amino acids have been calculated for dried Kangaroo muscle meat (DM) and compared to various other farmed meat sources such as chicken, pork, beef and lamb.[12] By comparison to these farmed meats, Kangaroo meat is higher in threonine, isoleucine and valine and lower in arginine and methionine-cystine amino acids. This information is invaluable in calculating balanced diets or when a subject requires an extra natural source of a specific essential amino acid.

Kangaroo meat was legalised for human consumption in South Australia in 1980.[13] In New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria it could only be sold as pet food until 1993.[14] Kangaroo was once limited in availability, although consumption in Australia is becoming more widespread. However, only 14.5% of Australians were reported in 2008 as eating Kangaroo meat at least four times per year.[15] Many Australian supermarkets now stock various cuts of kangaroo[8][16] including fillets, steaks, minced meat and 'Kanga Bangas' (Kangaroo sausages). Many Australian restaurants serve Kangaroo meat.[17]

Kangaroo meat has been exported since 1959.[15] Seventy percent of Kangaroo meat is exported, particularly to the European market: Germany and France.[13] It is sold in two supermarkets in the United Kingdom[16] and before a suspension on imports of kangaroo meat to Russia in 2009 it was widely used in Russian smallgoods.[18] In 2008, the industry is worth around A$250–270 million a year and provides around 4,000 jobs in Australia.[13][15]

Kangaroo meat is also processed into pet food.[13]

Animal welfare


The kangaroo meat industry has attracted critical attention in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States from animal rights organisations. Their concerns centre on the hunting process, in which all Kangaroo meat for the global market comes from Kangaroos harvested in the wild. In 2009 wildlife ecologist Dr Dror Ben-Ami for a University of Technology Sydney think-tank estimated that 440,000 "dependent young Kangaroos" are bludgeoned or starved to death each year after their mother has been shot. However, Kangaroo harvesters insist that they must follow a strict Code of Practice [19] to ensure the highest standards of humaneness and the Code [19] provides strict guidelines to ensure young aren't left to starve.

A report published in 2020[20] demonstrates that commercial harvesting actually has better humaneness outcomes than other forms of population control.

In the United Kingdom, the sale of Kangaroo meat has prompted protests from animal welfare campaigners. German retailer Lidl announced in 2018 that it would stop selling Kangaroo steaks following "customer feedback".[21] Iceland, Tesco and Morrisons have previously stopped selling lines of Kangaroo meat.[22]

Some suggest that when such campaigns are successful in decreasing commercial harvesting rates, this leads to an increase in non-commercial culling of Kangaroos – permits for which are available in every Australian state and territory to address issues associated with over-abundant Kangaroo populations.[citation needed] Non-commercial culling can be carried out by non-professional shooters, unlike professional harvesters who are required to undertake regular accuracy testing to ensure that humane standards are being met. It is more difficult to monitor non-commercial culling practices and Kangaroos killed under these permits cannot be sold commercially so they are left to decompose in paddocks, rather than being utilised.[citation needed]

A study by the RSPCA suggested that around 40% of Kangaroos are mis-shot (shot in the body, The code of practice states that Kangaroos should be shot in the head).

The RSPCA (2002) notes "sampling at the processor does not take into account the number of Kangaroos shot in the field that were not taken to the chiller or processor", and that "accurate surveying of shooters is extremely difficult because of observer influence affecting the results." It is recognised that most Kangaroo shooting is not able to be observed given "in most circumstances where Kangaroos are shot this is not feasible". There has been no large scale independent study done since.[23]

Injured Kangaroos have been seen by residents who appear to have had their jaws blown off, it is unclear whether these have been shot commercially or non-commercially.



Kangatarianism is a recent practice of following a diet that cuts out meat except Kangaroo on environmental and ethical grounds. Several Australian newspapers wrote about the neologism "Kangatarianism" in February 2010, describing eating a vegetarian diet with the addition of Kangaroo meat as a choice with environmental benefits because indigenous wild Kangaroos require no extra land or water for farming and produce little methane (a greenhouse gas) unlike cattle or other farm animals.[24][25] Advocates of Kangatarianism also choose it because Australian Kangaroos live natural lives, eat organic food, and are killed humanely.[26][27] For similar reasons, Australians have discussed eating only the meat of Australian feral camels ("Cameltarianism").[28]



There has been discussion from the Kangaroo meat industry about attempting to introduce a specific culinary name for Kangaroo meat, similar to the reference to pig meat as ham and pork, and calling deer meat venison. The motivation is to have diners thinking of the meat rather than the animal and avoiding adverse reactions to the eating of an animal considered to be cute. In 2005 the Food Companion International magazine, with support from the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia, ran a competition hoping to find a name that would not put diners off when they saw it on a menu.[citation needed] The three-month competition attracted over 2700 entries from 41 nations, and the name australus was decided in December 2005. The name was penned by university professor Steven West, an American about to be naturalised as an Australian citizen. Other finalists for the name included kangarly, maroo, krou, maleen, kuja, roujoe, rooviande, jurru, ozru, marsu, kep, kangasaurus, marsupan, jumpmeat, and MOM (meat of marsupials).[29]

The competition is not binding on the Kangaroo Industry Association, which has not moved to adopt the new name in any official capacity.

Traditional Aboriginal use


Kangaroo formed an important part of many traditional Aboriginal diets.

Kangaroo is called Kere aherre by the Arrernte people of Central Australia:

You find Kangaroos in flat country or mulga country. In the old days, people used to sic their dogs on them and spear them. The milk guts are pulled out and a wooden skewer is used to close up the carcase. Then it is tossed on top of the fire to singe the hair which is scraped off, and then it's [put in a hole and] covered up with hot earth and coals. The tail and both feet are cut off before cooking. These are put in together with the rest of the carcase.

The Kangaroo is chopped up so that many people can eat it. The warm blood and fluids from the gluteus medius and the hollow of the thoracic cavity are drained of all fluids. People drink these fluids, which studies have shown are quite harmless. Kangaroos are cut in a special way; into the two thighs, the two hips, the two sides of ribs, the stomach, the head, the tail, the two feet, the back and lower back. This is the way the Arrernte people everywhere cut it up.[30]

The Anangu, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara peoples of Central Australia call Kangaroo "malu". They use malu mainly for meat (kuka) but other uses include materials for spear making. They are an important totem species. The Angas Downs Indigenous Protected Area Rangers are currently undertaking land management activities to increase this important species in the landscape. This process is named Kuka Kanyini – looking after game animals.

See also



  1. ^ Government, Australian (4 November 2020). "Exporting kangaroo meat".
  2. ^ Kangaroo Biology Archived 29 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "SaveTheKangaroo.com". SaveTheKangaroo.com. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
  4. ^ Wilson, George (15 July 2010). "Using kangaroos adaptations to produce low-emission meat". awt.com.au. Australian Wildlife Services. Archived from the original on 19 March 2016.
  5. ^ "The Kangaroo Industry – Ecologists & Conservationists". Archived from the original on 22 July 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2008.
  6. ^ Pople, Tony; Gordon Grigg (August 1999). Commercial Harvesting of Kangaroos in Australia. Department of Zoology, The University of Queensland for Environment Australia. Archived from the original on 30 August 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  7. ^ "Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment". Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Dow, Steve (26 September 2007). "An industry that's under the gun". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  9. ^ a b "Kangaroo meat – health secret revealed" (Press release). Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). 23 April 2004. Archived from the original on 18 March 2007.
  10. ^ "2017 Quota Submissions for Commercially Harvested Macropods in Queensland" (PDF). www.qld.gov.au. Queensland Government.
  11. ^ Sinclair, A.J.; O'Dea, K; Dunstan, G; Ireland, P D; Niall, M (July 1987). "Effects on plasma lipids and fatty acid composition of very low fat diets enriched with fish or kangaroo meat". 22 (7). originally published Lipids; abstract republished by International Bibliographic Information on Dietary Supplements database (US Govt: National Institutes of Health/Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Agricultural Library/Agricultural Research Service/Food and Nutrition Information Center): 523–29. Archived from the original (Truncated abstract of article only) on 11 April 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2008. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ a b Simpson, R.J.; Da Vidson, B.E. (1971). "Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate Dehydrogenase From the Red Kangaroo (Megaleia Rufa): Purification and the Amino Acid Sequence Around a Reactive Cysteine". Aust. J. Biol. Sci. 24 (2): 263–73. doi:10.1071/BI9710263. PMID 5579442.
  13. ^ a b c d Collins, Fiona (22 February 2008). "Kangaroo meets booming export demand". Agribusiness Channel. Investor TV. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  14. ^ "Bush food: Kangaroo". The Guardian. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  15. ^ a b c Ratcliff, Carli (15 October 2008). "Kanga who?". SBS Food. Special Broadcasting Service. Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  16. ^ a b Benn, Matthew (4 September 2005). "Kangaroo meat exports jump even as drought culls supply". The Sun-Herald. Retrieved 21 August 2008.
  17. ^ Rebecca Levingston (10 February 2010). "Kangatarianism – roo stew?". ABC Brisbane. Archived from the original on 31 August 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  18. ^ Exporting red meat to Russia: Understanding the context Archived 10 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine, 7 October 2010. Retrieved on 22 October 2010.
  19. ^ a b "National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  20. ^ The Australian Kangaroo industry: male-only harvesting, sustainability and an assessment of animal welfare impacts
  21. ^ Grant, Katie (23 March 2018). "Lidl pulls 'deluxe' kangaroo steaks from UK stores". i. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  22. ^ Graham, Rachel (23 March 2018). "Lidl to stop selling kangaroo meat from June". The Grocer. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  23. ^ "Shooting of kangaroos causes animal suffering".
  24. ^ Tayissa Barone (9 February 2010). "Kangatarians jump the divide". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  25. ^ Kerry Maxwell (10 January 2011). "kangatarian". BuzzWord. Macmillan Dictionary. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  26. ^ Bonnie Malkin (12 February 2010). "'Kangatarians' emerge in Australia". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  27. ^ Wendy Zukerman (13 October 2010). "Eating Skippy: Is kangaroo the kindest meat?". New Scientist. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  28. ^ Ben Schott (23 February 2010). "Kangatarians, Vegeroos & Cameltarians". Schott's Vocab. New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  29. ^ Guerrera, Orietta (20 December 2005). "Australus: a palatable name for our Skippy". The Age. Retrieved 26 August 2008.
  30. ^ Turner, Margaret-Mary, Arrernte Foods:Foods from Central Australia, IAD Press, Alice Springs, 1994, ISBN 0-949659-76-2 pp. 42–43