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Kangaroos could play key role in climate chan -

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ELEANOR HALL: It's a proposal which has the potential to substantially reduce Australia's
greenhouse gas emissions.

But one of the scientists who's advocating it has already received hate mail.

The controversial scientific study published in the journal, Conservation Letters, is proposing
that Australia reduce its stock of sheep and cattle by 30 per cent and instead farm kangaroos in an
effort to fight climate change.

The study found that this could reduce Australia's carbon emissions by three per cent and save
hundreds of millions of dollars.

Simon Lauder has our report.

SIMON LAUDER: Australia's love of a good steak is contributing substantially to climate change.
Emission by emission, cattle and sheep are responsible for an estimated 11 per cent of Australia's
total greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr George Wilson says the kangaroo could change that.

GEORGE WILSON: Sheep and cattle have got a large room and it is a fermentation vat. In the process
they produce methane. Now kangaroos have got a completely different system, well not completely
different but it's ... the rate of passage through their system is much higher and as a result they
don't produce methane.

SIMON LAUDER: Kangaroo meat is already marketed as a greener alternative because paws don't have as
much impact on the landscape as hoofs do. Dr Wilson and his team at Australian Wildlife Services
have now calculated the role kangaroos could play in an emissions trading scheme.

GEORGE WILSON: We focused on the rangelands in western Queensland and western New South Wales where
landholders really don't have many options. We could reduce our greenhouse gas liability by three
per cent.

Now there really aren't many other options. I've not heard of any that can do that relatively
quickly.

SIMON LAUDER: And to do that you're proposing a reduction in sheep and cattle numbers on the
rangelands by 30 per cent?

GEORGE WILSON: Yeah, in those areas, yeah by 30 per cent. This will, as I say, save Australia 16
megatonnes of methane and methane is a particularly dangerous greenhouse gas.

It is 21 times more damaging than CO2, but fortunately it has a shorter time in the atmosphere, so
if you are to do things to get rid of that methane then you can have a profound effect on our
greenhouse gas liability and this is one way to go about it.

SIMON LAUDER: So 30 per cent of our cattle and sheep are really responsible for three per cent of
our entire emissions?

GEORGE WILSON: That is exactly right, yeah.

SIMON LAUDER: To replace that number of sheep and cattle, how much would you have to increase
Australia's kangaroo numbers by?

GEORGE WILSON: If you were to reduce the livestock populations you would create enough pasture,
enough opportunity to increase the kangaroo population to 175-million.

SIMON LAUDER: That's a lot of kangaroos. The current estimated population is 30-million.

In the meat production industry, kangaroo meat is worth relatively little. But it could prove a
lucrative option for farmers who now see kangaroos as a pest. If farmers are eventually to be made
liable for their animals' emissions under a trading scheme, Dr Wilson says they'll have a lot to
gain by doing the switcheroo.

GEORGE WILSON: If you were to save 16 megatonnes of greenhouse gases, this has got a market value
at the moment of about $650-million.

SIMON LAUDER: Dr Wilson says wildlife numbers and habitats have benefited from the managed
harvesting of springbok in South Africa, red deer in Scotland and bison in the USA.

He says the same thing could happen with kangaroos although there are some complex cultural
obstacles when it comes to eating national icons.

(Theme song from 'Skippy')

GEORGE WILSON: We've had some hate emails and fairly well contained and constrained but I can
understand how people have those views.

SIMON LAUDER: It's on our coat of arms, isn't it?

GEORGE WILSON: Yeah but springboks are on the South African coat of arms, well not the coat of arms
but it is certainly a similar national icon and that these sort of changes in Southern Africa over
the last few years have led to substantial increase and security of the national iconic species in
Southern Africa.

SIMON LAUDER: You talked about how much you like the kangaroo. How do you like your kangaroo?

GEORGE WILSON: Quick grilled is the way to go. Absolutely delicious.

ELEANOR HALL: That was scientist Dr George Wilson and that report compiled by Simon Lauder.