August 12th, 2009 by Derek Markham
They are Australia’s largest invasive species, and the government is spending $19 million AUD to deal with the excess population of desert dwellers. The country’s solution? Slaughter them from helicopters and serve them up as camel burgers, camel pies, camel sausages, camel steaks, and camel mince.
Australia’s wild camel population is out of control. An estimated 1 million roam the outback, destroying fragile ecosystems, fouling water holes, and causing a threat to endangered wildlife.
First brought to Australia by explorers in the 1840s from India and the Middle East, the feral camels are now capable of doubling their population every nine years. The one million camels cause intense competition with livestock for forage, and have been known to wreak havoc on water pipes and bathrooms in their search for water.
Environmentalists generally agree with the culling of the animals to help preserve native species, and point out that lean camel meat is healthier than beef or lamb and a good source of low cholesterol protein. However, animal rights groups say that birth control for the animals would be more humane than wholesale slaughter.
Those opposing the plan claim that with the camel population due to double in a decade, the culling would not be effective.
“What happens in 15 years when the numbers come back again? Do we waste another £9.5m.” – Paddy McHugh, camel catcher and exporter
News of the culling brought some namecalling from the press, with Erin Burnett, an anchor on CNBC, calling Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd “a serial killer”.
“He has launched air strikes – air strikes – against camels in the outback.” – Burnett
Burnett later said the comment was a joke, and invited Rudd to be a guest on her show.
Image: wollombi at Flickr under CC License
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