Sydney — In America, it's "Save the dolphinsB" and "Save the baby seals!" But in Australia many conservationists are crying, "Save our kangaroos!" In response to rampant killing of the marsupials in the 1950s and '60s, the Australian government imposed an export ban on kangaroo meat in 1972. Now, the kangaroos are estimated to be 30 to 40 million-strong, and farmers complain that in some areas "mobs" of up to 10,000 kangaroos can be found eating fodder needed for sheep and cattle.
As a result, the Australian government allowed the prohibition to expire late last year, and shortly afterward the US government lifted its 1974 ban on the import of kangaroo products.
Many Australians fear that the lifting of the bans, plus the reopening of markets in Southeast Asia, where the high-protein, reasonably cheap kangaroo meat is in high demand, may very well lead to a wholesale kangaroo slaughter. They say it could even mean an eventual classification of the national emblem as a rare species.