Animal activists and commercial industry at odds after Nike halts use of kangaroo leather | Nike

Nike is the latest global brand to stop using kangaroo leather in shoe production.

The sports apparel company said in a statement it “will stop making any product with kangaroo leather in 2023”.

It will debut a new version of its popular football boot, the Tiempo Legend Elite, with a new synthetic material “that is a better performance solution and replaces the use of kangaroo leather”.

A bill that would ban the sale of kangaroo parts was introduced in January in the US state of Oregon, where Nike has its headquarters, aimed at sportswear manufacturers.

The bill would make buying, receiving, selling or commercially exchanging any product containing a part of a dead kangaroo a crime. A similar bill has been introduced in Connecticut, and California enacted a ban on kangaroo-based products in the 1970s.

The German sportswear brand Puma also stopped production of football boots made from kangaroo leather this year. The companies have joined a lineup of luxury brands such as Versace and Prada who have banned using kangaroo skin.

Animal rights activists have long campaigned against commercial killing of kangaroos.

“Nike’s announcement that it will end use of kangaroo skins for its athletic shoes is a seismic event in wildlife protection, and tremors will be felt all over the world, especially in Australia where the mass commercial slaughter of kangaroos occurs,” the president of the Centre for a Humane Economy, Wayne Pacelle, said in a statement.

The co-founder and director of Kangaroos Alive, Mick McIntyre, said Nike and Puma were doing the right thing.

“They are saying, we don’t want to be part of this inhumane slaughter of this international icon.”

He said Australia’s commercial kangaroo industry was “cruel and barbaric”.

“Kangaroos aren’t farmed. Commercial killing is done in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere. The regulation of the industry is almost impossible.”

But the commercial harvest of kangaroos is legal in Australia. Conservation culling of the animal still occurs, and conservation experts have previously warned that bans could result in worse outcomes for kangaroos due to overpopulation.

The president of the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia, Ray Borda, said Nike’s ban was a move towards synthetic alternatives, rather than a move away from kangaroo.

“It is a cyclical trend,” he said. “We have other shoe manufacturers that have increasing demand due to the environmental benefits of kangaroo leather.”

The commercial industry sourced responsibly from the wild, Borda said. With one-third the carbon footprint of cattle and sheep, kangaroo products are considered by some as a sustainable option.

“They emit less methane, require less water, place less pressure on grazing lands, and don’t require energy to capture and contain,” he said, also pointing to the longevity and biodegradability of kangaroo products.

Borda said the commercial industry was needed to sustainably and humanely manage kangaroo numbers to ensure the species’ survival.

“As kangaroo populations fluctuate in different conditions, they compete with each other and other animals for food, and put stress on agricultural land,” he said.

“Without a commercial harvest, kangaroos would still need to be kept at sustainable levels through government and non-commercial culling, resulting in poorer animal welfare outcomes.”

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