Helicopter-borne professional shooters have killed more than 5,000 camels in five days amid the ongoing culling of feral herds. The killing took place in Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, home to about 2,300 indigenous people. It was ordered after local leaders complained about significant destruction caused by camels in the remote area in Australia. Local APY leaders have said in some cases dead camels have already contaminated important water sources needed by locals and native animals and birds.
Earlier this month, indigenous leaders in APY ordered the culling of 10,000 feral camels. The orders came after the local leaders felt that camels are destroying water sources in the already drought-hit region of Australia. The killing started on January 8 and lasted up to five days.
According to local indigenous leaders, the camel population in the region has risen rapidly and the feral creatures invade their homes in search of water. The culling came as Australia is experiencing its hottest and driest year in the past decade, with some areas affected by severe drought causing bushfires that have devasted the country down under. Government of Australia data suggests that there are approximately 1.2 million feral camels and the numbers are thought to be doubling every 8-9 years.
Experts believe that the mass killing could have a significant effect on global warming as camels are known to emit methane gas equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide each year. One million feral camels emitting the effect of a tonne of CO2 per year was the equivalent of an additional 4,00,000 cars on the road, Tim Moore, Chief Executive of carbon farming specialists RegenCo, said.
According to the latest Australia State of Environment Report (ASER), camels were first introduced to Australia in around 1840. Camels were imported to Australia from India and Afghanistan for transportation and construction during the colonisation of central and western parts of Australia. Later, some of the camels were released into the wild after motorised vehicles replaced the use of animal transportation.