Video of Australian policeman killing wombat sparks culture debate

Video of Australian policeman killing wombat sparks culture debate

Canberra - An online video showing an off-duty police officer in far-west coast of South Australia (SA) throwing rocks at a wombat and killing it has sparked an investigation and comments whether such action should be protected as part of Aboriginal culture. 

SA police said Thursday they had identified the man seen in the video as one of their members. Local media have said the officer is an Aboriginal man. It is not clear when the incident took place.

"I find the actions portrayed in the footage to be totally abhorrent and unacceptable," SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said. 

The video was first posted on Facebook by Adelaide-based Wombat Awareness Organisation. It also organized an online petition seeking changes to laws and asking for the perpetrator to be prosecuted, which has garnered more than 21,000 signatures by Thursday evening.

Australia's Native Title Act allows Aboriginals to kill an animal using stones as a form of traditional hunting. 

The video taken from inside a vehicle at night shows a shirtless man following a wombat along a dirt road while throwing rocks at it until it stops moving after it was hit in the head several times.

"First bloke to ever see killing a wombat on foot with a rock, mate," a voice is heard in the video.

Aboriginal elder Jack Johncock told local ABC Eyre Peninsula radio it is "one of many methods" Indigenous people used to kill for food. 

The petition showed a "lack of understanding of cultural practices," he said. "What do they want us to do, eat McDonald's and Kentucky Fried and get fat like everyone else in the country?"