Australia: Authorities kill 5,000 camels over environmental concerns

A wild camel near Marla, South Australia.
A wild camel near Marla, South Australia. Copyright Flickr
Copyright Flickr
By Julie Gaubert with AFP
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The number of wild camels in Australia is reported to be more than 1.2 million.


Helicopter shooters killed more than 5,000 wild camels in Australia, in a campaign aimed at eliminating the threat posed by these animals to the local population in the midst of drought.

Local governors in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) aborigine region, northwest of the state of South Australia, have approved the collective culling of the wild camels.

The animals were approaching residential areas, seeking water and food, but authorities called “urgent response to threats”.

2019 has been Australia's hottest and driest year ever recorded, causing huge fires, which continue to rage for months, but also water scarcity in many areas.

READ MORE · Unprecedented wildfires continue to rage in Australia

The camel extermination campaign lasted five days and ended on Sunday, said Richard King, head of an indigenous area in the northwestern tip of Western Australia, home to some 2,300 people.

“The population of non-native camels had exploded in recent years and were causing significant damage to infrastructure and native vegetation, danger to families and communities,” explained Richard King in a press release, justifying the move which received heavy criticism across the globe and on social media.

King explained that weakened camels were often trapped in wells, where they often died, contaminating water reserves that are valuable to the local population, as well as wildlife.

"The ongoing drought, which is not easy to manage with the local fauna, is causing severe stress for wild runners," he noted.

Feral camels were transported to Australia in the 1840s by colonists who used them for their explorations or to transport goods and goods before constructing the rail network.

In Australia, nearly 10 million hectares of land have been damaged due to uncontrolled fires for the past five months, and more than 2,000 households have been burned, while around half a billion animals perished.

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