In recent years, there were theories that suggested replacing beef with kangaroo meat in our diets could prevent our planet from further warming up. But a recent study shows those theories may be wrong.
Most of us know that cattle farts and belching are reportedly linked to a warming planet, since the animals produce high amounts of methane. Until now, researchers believed that kangaroos were among the methane producers with the lowest output.
But a recent study revealed that the Australia marsupials may not be less gassy, as previous research had suggested. A group of zoologists found that although cows still remain the largest methane producers, kangaroos are not very eco-friendly.
Adam Munn, the lead author of the study, explained that previous research was biased because scientists focused on what goes out from the animal’s front end, instead of measuring the methane coming from its back end as well.
The recent findings suggest that the largest methane output comes from kangaroo’ back end as farts. This is why kangaroos are not any more special than other non-ruminant herbivores including horses and rabbits.
According to the background data of the study, methane emissions are a major contributor to the greenhouse effect. Livestock’s emissions account for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization reported. Plus, 44 percent of those gases is methane.
Moreover, 39 percent of emissions coming from livestock are produced by ruminants such as cattle, goats and sheep. Ruminants store the plants they eat into their specialized digestive tract for later use. But the plants undergo fermenting processes prior to digestion through bacterial activity. These processes also release a large amount of methane as a byproduct in the meantime.
Past studies also suggested that the bacteria in kangaroo gut may not produce as much methane as bacteria in ruminants’ stomach do, so a transplantation of these bacteria from marsupials to sheep and cattle could reduce emissions. Yet, Munn is not convinced by the theory.
He argued that the gut microbial population in kangaroos may not help because kangaroos emit less methane because of they way they digest food rather than because of quality of gut bacteria. Kangaroos do not need to ferment their food and the process happens faster than it does in sheep and cows. Because the process is quicker, gut bacteria cannot release as much methane as they do in ruminants.
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