Kangaroo Leather in the US by Absolem
To my friends and family in Leather, both known and unmet, I have been mulling this article over for a few days now, given that it is one of those topics that delves into politics, environmental issues, and animal rights issues. Any of those topics can trigger an argument in any crowd. Combined they make for a great soup of pissed off responses and opinions. However, some issues really do need to have a light shone on them to get a wider perspective on the issue which in this case is the recent proposed bill to ban the import and sale of kangaroo leather into the United States.
For background, the kangaroo is a non-domesticated marsupial primarily found in Australia and New South Wales. While they are damn cute and entertaining to watch, they have a tremendous negative environmental impact on the lands they are native to. Human intervention has removed their natural predators, while land clearing and agriculture have provided more foraging growth for them. In order to mitigate this environmental impact, the government strives to control the kangaroo population with a yearly cull ration, much like the hunting of the American alligator in the US, non-government employed hunters are issued permits to harvest the herds for sport, leather, and meat sales. Like culling policies in the US, following the policy guidelines have been interpretational at best, horrific at worst. The reality though is that the culling policy has been in harsh conflict with farmers and ranchers who have shown a preference towards rasher means of control, even to the point of the eradication of the species as vermin and pets. Our forefathers acted similarly with wolves, bears, and coyotes in the late 1950’s - 70’s, using U.S. government supported poisoning operations. For more information, google “environmental impact of kangaroos” and “kangaroo leather controversy.”
Now why does this have me up in the morning typing instead of relaxing on my back porch with my coffee? More precisely, why is this matter something I feel should be talked about by the Leather community? It is about the leather of course; kangaroo leather is some of the strongest, most abrasion resistant, and softest of leathers all rolled into one package. As a Leatherman, leather crafter, and whip slinger, I have long known that kangaroo leather is both beautiful and strong, with the power to accomplish what other materials would be torn apart and destroyed by. A whip made of kangaroo leather isn’t just subtle enough to roll out and form a perfectly flowing wave, it is also strong enough to then take the incredible power that is generated as the wave rolls over and turns into a sonic booming crack and returns over and over for more without damage.
I have only one kangaroo whip so far, and I admit I have a craving to collect and use more of them. While synthetic materials make for very nice, well-functioning whips and flogging tools, they are all ultimately compared to how they perform in contrast to a kangaroo leather version. There is a good reason for this comparison - it is the gold standard in leather for whip making materials; so, the passage of this bill would be a bit of a kick to the kneecap of my hopes to have and use what whip makers around the world create in their artistry of leather.
Is this proposed ban just another example of the ‘we don’t like that, so you can’t have it either’ mentality in which one side of a topic deems they are right to decide for others what is best, with little real interest in the facts or realities of the topic beyond their opinion? Pretty much so in my view. What does this mean for whip enthusiasts and people of leather? It means that we have to stay educated on the topics and let our political figures know what we think of these matters.