NEWS AND OPINION: Nike has announced that it will stop using kangaroo leather (K-leather) in all of its products which of course includes football boots, by the end of 2023 and will be using synthetic materials instead for the uppers.
Nike is following in the footsteps of Puma, the German rival and Diadora an Italian rival. Other brands to have spurned kangaroo leather are Gucci, Versace, Prada and Chanel.
All these businesses are concerned about the shooting of wild kangaroos in Australia in their millions to provide meat and leather. It is estimated that about 2 million kangaroos are killed annually. Important: these are wild animals shot at a distance. Think of the pain caused to these sentient creatures.
My research indicates that they are they nearly always shot often at night I guess to be out of sight.
This change in attitude by Nike is a big step forward in animal welfare and has been brought about because of a long campaign to stop the kangaroo culling which has been backed by celebrities and animal-rights activists and also supported by a crackdown by US politicians.
Clearly, I am not the only one who is sickened by the Australian shooters. It’s ironic in some ways because Australians are obsessed with their native species and the desire to protect them from for example feral cats and foxes. Yet the kangaroo is a native species but is mercilessly persecuted.
It is ‘harvested’ using an objectionable word and one reason given is that kangaroos are particularly sensitive to droughts. They argue that they would die of starvation or thirst unless they were culled in their millions. It’s quite a nice argument but then again, all shooters of animals find good arguments to justify what they do.
They argue that shooting them is more humane but the truth is that it is economically beneficial and I’m sure that a lot of them enjoy shooting animals so there is a double benefit.
Nike made their announcement last week. Kangaroo leather on the uppers of football boots is the best apparently for durability, light weight, feel and comfort. It seems that Nike has found a synthetic alternative which is as good.
David Beckham used them but he was pressured into swapping his Adidas Predators for an alternative pair with synthetic uppers when he was England captain apparently.
Adidas should follow. Natasha Dolezal, of the US-based Center for a Humane Economy, said:
“Now it’s up to Adidas and the remaining soccer cleat makers to follow suit.”
She hailed Nike’s decision as a “seismic event for wildlife protection”.
The Center for a Humane Economy targeted Nike in a “Kangaroos are not shoes” campaign which went viral on social media two years ago after it was posted by celebrities such as Woody Harrelson and Ricky Gervais.
Nike has its headquarters in Oregon and in that state’s jurisdiction a bill was commenced in mid-January of this year proposing a complete ban on the sale of kangaroo-based products.
The Democrat Sen, Floyd Prozanski, introduced the bill and said:
“It’s unconscionable that millions of native wild animals in Australia have been killed for the sake of high-end soccer cleats worn by an elite subset of soccer players.”
At present, California is the only US state with a ban on kangaroo products. Connecticut has a bill going to their jurisdiction to achieve the same end.
And there is an attempt to introduce a federal law, Kangaroo Protection Act, in the USA to implement a nationwide ban.
In Australia kangaroos are pests. The hunters are either hired by farmers or commercial harvesters.
The professor of wildlife ecology and conservation at Deakin University in Melbourne, Euan Richie, said:
“If we stopped harvesting them in a sustainable way, kangaroos will suffer. They will eat any food they find on the ground, so we’d see quite large horrific starvation events if we move into a drought.”
Others want to find a much more humane way of curbing the population size of kangaroos on the Australian continent. There must be a more humane way.