Australia to cull up to 10,000 camels amid bushfires

Australia to cull up to 10,000 camels amid bushfires

At least 10,000 camels will be killed in drought-hit Australia in a bid to relieve pressure on local communities. The five-day cull, which will be conducted aerially, began on Wednesday, reported news agency AFP. The exercise in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, where some 2,300 indigenous people live, is the first in the state.

Officials claimed “extremely large” herds of camels have been encroaching on rural communities in this region, threatening scarce food and drinking water and damaging infrastructure.

“These (camel) groups are putting pressure on the remote Aboriginal communities in the APY Lands and the pastoral operations as the camels search for water,” the APY Lands executive committee said in a statement, reported AFP.

South Australia’s environment department, which is supporting the aerial cull, said the drought had also created “critical animal welfare issues” as some camels have died of thirst or trampled upon each other as they rush to find water.

“In some cases, dead animals have contaminated important water sources and cultural sites,” a spokesperson added.

Australia is considered to have the largest wild camel population in the world, with official estimates suggesting that more than one million are roaming the country’s inland deserts. Camels were first introduced in the country in the 1840s to aid in the exploration of the continent’s vast interior, with up to 20,000 imported from India in the six decades that followed.

The exercise comes after Australia experienced its hottest and driest year on record in 2019, with the severe drought causing some towns to run out of the water and fuelling deadly bushfires that have devastated the country’s southeast.