Huge dark eyes staring,
the young kangaroo convulses next to me on the
ground. My son restrains the dog that attacked it, my daughter sobs. The
western sun slants through eucalypts, magpies carol in the distance, it is warm
and still. We have had what nature writer Barry Lopez calls ‘the conversation of
death’ and the joey will soon die.
I am working with people who hunt, where lives are sustained through
the ending of the lives of others. Hunting is constantly controversial, with
arguments ranging from ‘the first hunters were the first humans’ to ‘meat is
murder’. But there are distinct cultural variations: there is a general acceptance
of traditional Indigenous peoples’ hunting and in middle-class Australia
often an assumption that ‘shooting’ is a redneck activity. Across the world
there is a wide range of social attitudes and beliefs around modern hunting.
Anthropologist Tim Ingold argues that in relationships between hunters and
animals, there is ‘a working basis for mutuality and coexistence’.