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Uncle Defends Cop Who Stoned Wombat To Death

WARNING, GRAPHIC CONTENT: The uncle of the South Australian police officer who was filmed cheering as he taunted and stoned a wombat to death says his actions are 'a traditional custom'.

The police officer's uncle -- who doesn't wish to be named -- has come to his nephew's defence, saying the act is a traditional custom, and the wombat meat would have been cooked and eaten following the recording.

"It's a custom that Indigenous people on the west coast, especially the far west coast, have used for thousands of years, as part of our hunting and gathering," he told 10 News First.

"If they've got native title over their country, which we have on the west coast of South Australia, that gives us our right to go and hunt and gather on our natural, traditional land."

Video emerged on Wednesday of the off duty officer laughing and throwing rocks at the wombat, on a dirt road in outback South Australia.

The clip shows the off duty officer step out of a car and begin stalking a wombat as it wanders along a dirt road.

He is filmed giving a thumbs-up to the driver before picking up a rock and taking aim at the wombat.

In the next horrifying few minutes, the man is filmed hurling rock after rock at the helpless animal as it tries desperately to run away.

10 daily has chosen not to show this part of the footage.

The man gives a thumbs up to the camera. Image: 10 News First

At one point, the driver can be heard cheering the officer on and yelling "hit him, hit him, kill him".

Laughter is heard when the wombat eventually stops moving.

It's unknown exactly where or when the attack took place.

The Wombat Awareness Organisation posted the distressing footage to their Facebook page.

"Healthy wombat stoned to death by off duty police officer," the group alleged.

"I am tired of reporting such cruelty for it to be ignored. If this gets your support, something may be done. Please share, this is not entertainment.

"This has to stop! We are withholding identity for the moment and this has been reported, we just need your support so this is not ignored."

The man appears to celebrate as the wombat lies motionless on the ground nearby. Image: 10 News First

The incident is under formal investigation by 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," said Police Commissioner Grant Stevens.

"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."

A Change.org petition uploaded on Thursday is calling for native animals to be protected under the Animal Welfare Act and for action to be taken in this case. More than 8000 people have signed the petition so far.

Contact the author: tryan@networkten.com.au