The slaughter of kangaroos in Australia is going largely unnoticed when compared with Canada's widely condemned annual seal hunt, a prominent Canadian animal rights lawyer says.
Lesli Bisgould is embarking on a 12-stop tour of Australia, hosted by animal protection institute Voiceless, to highlight the plight of Australia's icon.
Voiceless says that the annual hunt of Australia's kangaroos is the world's largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife, with almost 90 million lawfully killed in the past 20 years.
By comparison, Canada's harp seals are hunted in the world's largest commercial slaughter of marine mammals, with almost 4 million killed lawfully in the past two decades.
This year, Voiceless will explore legal comparisons between the two hunts and the lessons Australia can learn from its Canadian counterpart in the 2012 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series, starting in Sydney on Wednesday.
Seals and kangaroos are both slaughtered away from the public eye and many suffer for long periods of time before death, Voiceless says.
Ms Bisgould will share her legal insights and experiences of the seal hunt while local speakers will provide a legal perspective on the commercial hunting of kangaroos.
With the two countries holding such similar records, the presentations will also explore the legal parameters of the hunts and what the public can do.
Ms Bisgould was the first lawyer in Canada to specialise in animal rights, she wrote the first Canadian text on the subject and has lectured widely throughout Canada and the US.
She has challenged the Canadian government, questioning its justifications of the hunt.
She was co-counsel in two lengthy court cases. The first challenged the sale of seal penises as they contain a controlled substance, testosterone.
The second challenged the Canadian government's efforts to thwart observation of the hunt by independent observers. She claimed that the government did not want observers to document accurate images of the horrors of the hunt, which contradicted the government's own assertions about it.
"Every person has a part to play in animal protection. If we look at images of the seal and kangaroo hunts and we are uncomfortable with them, we are each responsible for holding our governments to account," she said.
"Canada and Australia share startling similarities, with legislation that overlooks the reality of what's happening on the ground and fails to protect our native animals from terrible suffering."
Joining her in the Law Lecture Series are a collection of Australia's prominent legal minds including chairman of the Barristers Animal Welfare Panel Graeme McEwen, Dr Melissa Perry, QC, and lawyer and research fellow with think tank for kangaroos THINKK, Keely Boom.
The Law Lecture Series will be held at 12 venues around the country, including the University of Sydney, Arnold Bloch Leibler (Sydney), Bond University (Gold Coast), Allens Arthur Robinson (Perth), Australian National University (Canberra), Clayton Utz (Brisbane), Griffith University (Brisbane), Murdoch University (Perth), Flinders University (Adelaide), University of Melbourne, Corrs Chambers Westgarth (Melbourne) and the University of Tasmania (Hobart).
These free events are open to the public and will run from Wednesday until June 18. To register, click here.
The story Parallels between seal and kangaroo slaughter: Canadian lawyer first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.