The kangaroo is a symbol of courage and boundless energy, of strength and leadership, and when carrying a pouch of joeys around the Australian outback, of adorable parenting.
However, kangaroos are also under threat from hunters who sell the animal hides to fashion houses to be used in shoes, bags, and more.
California banned the sale of kangaroo leather in the 70s, Kangaroos at Risk reports. According to The Guardian, some retailers are breaking this law, keeping kangaroo leather shoes and other products on their shelves.
A Center for a Humane Economy investigation found widespread violations of California’s ban on the commerce of kangaroo-derived products, and a lack of enforcement of California Penal Code § 653o. Officials from California Fish and Wildlife and other agencies are now taking action to increase compliance.
“We documented more than 100 stores in California illegally selling kangaroo skin soccer shoes or cleats,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy, “and we believe that number has been cut in half since we launched our effort to see that the law is obeyed. We will continue to apply pressure until the trade in kangaroo parts stops at all retail outlets.”
Major athletic clothing companies like Nike, Adidas, Asics, Lotto, Mizuno, New Balance, Puma and Umbro still do rely on kangaroo leather for more than 65 models of soccer cleats, contributing to the killing of some 1.5 million kangaroos a year in Australia, comprising the largest commercial hunt of terrestrial
wildlife in the world, according to an industry analysis by the Center.
That killing continues to be sanctioned by the federal and state governments of Australia and the athletic shoe companies, even as kangaroo populations have been devastated by the massive fires that recently scorched the continent and reportedly killed more than a billion animals, including countless kangaroos.
California’s ban on kangaroo leather applies to online and brick-and-mortar sales. According to The Guardian, even though conservation groups have repeatedly contacted California state authorities about companies that skirt the law, no regulatory agencies have stepped up to enforce it.
Kangaroos are at great risk, and more will be targeted, hunted down, and slaughtered for their hides.
This doesn’t have to happen.
As Dezeen reports, many synthetic alternatives to kangaroo leather exist, including sustainable plant-based options made out of mushrooms, apples, pineapples, and more.
The European Union is considering a kangaroo products ban, facing pressure from citizens, The Guardian reports. According to Reuters, even the Australian government has strengthened protections for kangaroos over the years, requiring higher standards in the slaughter of joeys.
If Australia can take a stand for kangaroos, California has little excuse.
This article by Matthew Russell was first published by The Animal Rescue Site. Lead Image: CALIFORNIA ENACTED A BAN ON KANGAROO LEATHER IN 1971.
What you can do
Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.
Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.