Belgian animal rights organisation Gaia has launched a campaign to combat the use of kangaroo leather in sports shoes made by major brands like Adidas and Nike.
An estimated 1.6 million kangaroos are hunted and killed in Australia every year, mainly for meat, and the hunters’ methods are not clinical. Shots regularly fail to kill the animal outright, and it only dies weeks or even months later from its injuries.
And when the target is female kangaroos carrying their young, known as joeys, the young are slaughtered summarily by being beheaded on having their skulls crushed on the bumper of a truck.
The skin of the animal can be treated and turned into kangaroo leather, euphemistically known as K-leather in the trade to mask its origins. It then finds its way into football bots and other sports shoes made by the major manufacturers and sold at a premium for its flexibility and comfort.
But according to a report earlier this year from the Centre for a Humane Economy, “The high-performance choice of top players today are shoes made of synthetics, mesh, knits, and artificial kangaroo skin”.
That accounts for the best-selling brands by all makers. But in the US, for example, the leather can still be traded and used in 49 of the 50 states, with the exclusion of California.
The campaign aims to stop that trade, encouraging makers led by Adidas to follow the lead of fashion houses Prada and Versace, as well as sports shoe manufacturer Diadora, by giving up the use of K-leather in their products.
“Adidas, as the largest user of kangaroo skins in the world, can have the greatest impact by adjusting its policy,” the organisation said.
“Gaia also asks consumers to stop buying products from all brands that still use kangaroo leather. It is time to continue the transition from (kangaroo) leather to synthetic, vegetable and recycled materials for athletic footwear, such as football boots.”
In January this year, a campaign by Gaia against the sale of kangaroo meat led to the products being removed from the stores of Carrefour Belgium, Makro, Cora, Match and Spar, part of the Colruyt Group.