Wild camels are becoming a serious problem in Australian outback
Over one million feral (wild) camels are damaging the Australian outback. The single-humped dromedary camels were brought mainly from India in the second half of the 19th century by the British to work in the scrubby, red-earthed arid parts of the Australian outback, transporting people and as pack animals. Once trains, roads and machinery made them obsolete as workers, the camels were let loose, creating the world’s only population of wild camels.
The wild camels are spread over an area of 1.3 million square miles. An estimated 40 percent of the camels are on Aboriginal lands. About 18 months ago, 3,000 camels descended on one Aboriginal community during a period of drought. The camels can suck up 50 gallons of water in a matter of minutes and if water is scarce, the wild camels descend on small communities and attack air conditioning units and plumbing systems. The damage is costing about $10 million per year.
Wild camel cull
Government-sanctioned aerial culls of wild camels were carried out last year to reduce the size of the herd, but the problem has continued. The thrashing and fouling of water holes is also affecting the indigenous bird and kangaroo populations.
A more concerted and serious cull of wild camels is now being considered by the Australian government.
19th century camel train carrying railway supplies