The camels that broke Australia’s back
A new proposal in Australia plans to slaughter thousands of camels that are wrecking havoc in the outback. First introduced to the country in the 1840s to help explorers traverse the harsh deserts, feral camels now number more than one million, with a population that doubles in size every nine years. The herds roam unchecked ...
A new proposal in Australia plans to slaughter thousands of camels that are wrecking havoc in the outback.
First introduced to the country in the 1840s to help explorers traverse the harsh deserts, feral camels now number more than one million, with a population that doubles in size every nine years. The herds roam unchecked through much of central and western Australia, destroying sacred indigenous sites and fragile ecosystems alike. Traveling in large, intimidating packs, they compete with livestock for food, trample vegetation and ravage residents’ homes in search of food and water.
Last month the federal government set aside $15.6 million dollars for a “camel reduction program” that needs to drastically reduce the population down to at least a third of its present size to avoid “catastrophic damage”. So far the most practical strategy seems to be a cull, with sharpshooters in helicopters firing on large groups — an “actually quite humane” plan, according to some. This is good news for certain farmers, who are looking to expand the market for camel meat, reportedly an excellent source of low cholesterol protein. Alternative suggestions, including exporting the camels or instituting a mass sterilization policy, are thought of as unfeasible given the animals’ enormous size and aggressiveness.
Unsurprisingly, animal welfare activists are deeply disturbed by the proposals, but criticism for the government is also coming from an unexpected outlet: the foreign media. American broadcaster CNBC referred to the plans as “camelcide” and dubbed Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a “serial killer.” Similarly, hosts of a program on China’s Central TV are calling the government out for its “massacre…of innocent lives.”
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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