Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 267–272 | Cite as

Bringing Compassion to the Ethical Dilemma in Killing Kangaroos for Conservation

Comment on “Conservation Through Sustainable Use” by Rob Irvine
  • Daniel RampEmail author
Case Studies


Ethical debate on the killing of kangaroos has polarised conservation and animal welfare science, yet at the heart of these scientific disciplines is the unifying aim of reducing harm to non-human animals. This aim provides the foundation for common ground, culminating in the development of compassionate conservation principles that seek to provide mechanisms for achieving both conservation and welfare goals. However, environmental decision-making is not devoid of human interests, and conservation strategies are commonly employed that suit entrenched positions and commercial gain, rather than valuing the needs of the non-human animals in need of protection. The case study on the wild kangaroo harvest presents just such a dilemma, whereby a conservation strategy is put forward that can only be rationalised by ignoring difficulties in the potential for realising conservation benefits and the considerable welfare cost to kangaroos. Rather than an open debate on the ethics of killing game over livestock, in this response I argue that efforts to bring transparency and objectivity to the public debate have to date been obfuscated by those seeking to maintain entrenched interests. Only by putting aside these interests will debate about the exploitation of wildlife result in humane, compassionate, and substantive conservation benefits.


Sustainable use Compassionate conservation Animal welfare Kangaroos Conservation strategies Entrenched interests 



This manuscript was greatly improved by comments on an earlier draft by Liv Baker, Marc Bekoff, Dror Ben-Ami, Louise Boronyak, Kate Brandis, David Croft, Sara Dubois, Esther Faye, Ray Mjadwesch, and the Associate Editor. Funding was provided by the Australian Academy of Science through the WH Gladstones Population and Environment Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of the EnvironmentUniversity of TechnologySydneyAustralia

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