At least 10,000 feral camels will be killed in South Australia by an army of professional shooters loaded in helicopters. The orders came from indigenous leaders in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY) who feel that camels are drinking all their water in the already drought-hit region. The killing will start on Wednesday, January 8 and is expected to last 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. 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. Local APY leaders have said in some cases dead camels have already contaminated important water sources and cultural sites.
A spokesperson from the APY communities stated that camels have been wreaking havoc in the region every day which has resulted in significant damage to infrastructure, danger to families and communities, increased grazing pressure across the APY lands. The spokesperson further added, some camels also die of thirst or trample each other to access water which raises critical animal welfare concern.
Experts believe that the mass killing could have a good 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 400,000 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.