An Australian police officer filmed stoning a wombat to death, is at the centre of a controversial debate over whether the killing is justified under traditional Aboriginal methods and animal rights groups who call the death cruel and unjustified.
More than 70,000 signatures have been gathered on a petition to get the off-duty police officer charged after the stoning.
Under the Native Title Act, wombats can be killed for traditional purposes. But the petition, led by the Wombat Awareness Organization, say traditional methods do not entail cruelty, laughing, social media, iPhones and disrespect for the animals.
We are asking for these perpetrators to be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act.
South Australia Police Commissioner Grant Stevens identified the man seen in a video seriously injuring a wombat as a member of the South Australia Police.
“I viewed the video this morning and immediately instigated an investigation into this incident. I find the actions portrayed in the footage to be totally abhorrent and unacceptable.
“I am aware of the community outrage regarding this matter.
“I want to reassure everybody that the actions in the video do not align with the values and behaviours I expect from my employees, nor does it align with community standards. Numerous employees of South Australia Police have also expressed to me that they, too, find the footage detestable and not consistent with their values.”
Port Lincoln-based Wirangu-Kokatha elder Jack Johncock told ABC Eyre Peninsula throwing rocks at wombats was “one of many methods” local Aboriginal people used to kill them for food.
“It’s easy for people to sit back and judge people,” he said.
The off-duty police officer is Aboriginal.
You can choose to see the video here on the Wombat Awareness Organization Facebook page.
The organization, which helps wombats that can’t be released, shows a shirtless man — identified as Waylon Johncock — chasing a wombat along a dirt road and throwing rocks at it on the state’s far-west coast.
At the end of the video, the wombat falls over and stops moving after the man hits it in the head several times with a rock.
A man in a car then declares that Johncock has killed the wombat.
“You killed him, bro,” he said.
“First bloke to ever see killing a wombat on foot with a rock, mate.”
Here, watch this video quickly but don’t forget the last one.