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Australian Hunters to Kill 10,000 Feral Camels from Helicopters Amid Worsening Drought

Camels are pictured on an Australian camel dairy farm in April 2016. Camels are not native to Australia, and thirsty feral camels have become a significant problem in recent months amid severe drought and fires.
Camels are pictured on an Australian camel dairy farm in April 2016. Camels are not native to Australia, and thirsty feral camels have become a significant problem in recent months amid severe drought and fires.
(Image: © Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

A lot of camels are going to die this week, as Australian hunters mow them down from the air.

More than 1 million of the humped creatures wander Australia. They aren't from the continent, but arrived in the 1840s on ships — brought in as an ideal means of transport for the country's vast deserts. Nearly 200 years later, they're mostly feral pests, destroying habitats and competing with humans and native species for resources, according to Earther. And amid the worst drought and fire season in national memory, Australia wants to kill 10,000 of them from helicopters.

Indigenous elders in the state of South Australia approved the plan, after a series of incidents in which parched camels, desperate for water in the drought-ravaged landscape, created major problems for their human neighbors, according to News.com.au.The killing is expected to take place in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara territories in the northwest part of the state, according to the BBC. The cull, which began yesterday (Jan. 8), should last five days.

Related: Devastating Photos of Raging Wildfires in Australia

"We have been stuck in stinking hot and uncomfortable conditions, feeling unwell, because the camels are coming in and knocking down fences, getting in around the houses and trying to get to water through air conditioners," Marita Baker, an indigenous leader, told The Australian.

In some instances, the camels have managed to contaminate precious water sites, News.com.au reported.

The mass camel cull is a small piece of a much larger tragedy impacting Australia. The country just got done with its hottest year on record (even as 2019 was the second hottest on record across the globe), and South Australia got less rain in the last 11 months than at any other point in recorded history. According to Australian researchers, the increasing heat and lower precipitation is making the continent more susceptible to extreme weather events, most notably massive bushfires. And once fires start, they tend to be much worse.  So far this fire season, a region as large as South Korea has burned, killing 24 people and likely well over a billion animals.

According to the Australian government's climate projections, this unusually dry season is likely just an early look at what's to come for the country as the climate changes. Already the continent is warmer and dryer than ever, and those trends are expected to continue and worsen, setting the country up for even more significant fires in the future.

Originally published on Live Science.

  • IAmAReptilianAlien
    I thought camels could store water in their humps? If these camels are doing so, then why would they need to continue consuming water that could be consumed by a native or more productive species? Camels shouldn't be in Australia anyway, I doubt anyone seriously needs one for transportation. Mow them down, mates! Round them up and harvest their exotics meats😝
    Reply
  • ABS314
    Firstly, if they wanted to reduce/eliminate the camel population, they should have done it by using animal birth control methods LONG before now. They knew they would reproduce, so what were they thinking?
    It's stupid humans' fault for bringing them in in the first place - it's not the animal's fault, they aren't killing anything (like the feral cats are), they are just trying to survive.
    It's also stupid human's fault for the fires - I just heard that 24 people were arrested for starting some of the fires. THEY should get the death penalty for what they did. Kill THEM, not the innocent animals.
    Reply
  • IAmAReptilianAlien
    ABS314 said:
    Firstly, if they wanted to reduce/eliminate the camel population, they should have done it by using animal birth control methods LONG before now. They knew they would reproduce, so what were they thinking?
    It's stupid humans' fault for bringing them in in the first place - it's not the animal's fault, they aren't killing anything (like the feral cats are), they are just trying to survive.
    It's also stupid human's fault for the fires - I just heard that 24 people were arrested for starting some of the fires. THEY should get the death penalty for what they did. Kill THEM, not the innocent animals.

    Yes, apparently early Australians didn't have the foresight to plan for the future reduction or elimination of camels from Australia, probably because nobody anticipated that camels as a mode of transportation would ever be replaced? It is odd to consider the feral camels as being innocent because it implies that they are capable of being guilty, which is unbelievable because they do not make choices based on right or wrong. It is unfortunate that humans are to blame for some of these fires, and that the camels must struggle to survive, which negatively affects indigenous populations. It's a circle of unfortunate events.
    Reply
  • ABS314
    IAmAReptilianAlien said:
    Yes, apparently early Australians didn't have the foresight to plan for the future reduction or elimination of camels from Australia, probably because nobody anticipated that camels as a mode of transportation would ever be replaced? It is odd to consider the feral camels as being innocent because it implies that they are capable of being guilty, which is unbelievable because they do not make choices based on right or wrong. It is unfortunate that humans are to blame for some of these fires, and that the camels must struggle to survive, which negatively affects indigenous populations. It's a circle of unfortunate events.


    Unfortunately, when people bring in invasive species, there is no thought to the future possibilities at all, which is why future generations have a huge problem to deal with.
    The term innocent as used here has nothing to do with legal definitions of innocence and guilt. It is innocence with the meaning of pure simplicity, similar to the way that children are innocent.
    Yes, it is a horrible circle of unfortunate events, but killing these camels is unnecessarily cruel.

    And I have to say, on an unrelated and yet connected event, it did not send a very good message to do an expansive fireworks display for New Years Eve. It diminished the seriousness of what was going on because it seemed more important to give people a party while their animals were burning. Just a comment on how this looked to the rest of the world.
    Reply
  • IAmAReptilianAlien
    ABS314 said:
    Unfortunately, when people bring in invasive species, there is no thought to the future possibilities at all, which is why future generations have a huge problem to deal with.
    The term innocent as used here has nothing to do with legal definitions of innocence and guilt. It is innocence with the meaning of pure simplicity, similar to the way that children are innocent.
    Yes, it is a horrible circle of unfortunate events, but killing these camels is unnecessarily cruel.

    And I have to say, on an unrelated and yet connected event, it did not send a very good message to do an expansive fireworks display for New Years Eve. It diminished the seriousness of what was going on because it seemed more important to give people a party while their animals were burning. Just a comment on how this looked to the rest of the world.

    Yes I would think that the situation calls for some kind of national state of emergency to 1, raise awareness and 2, form solutions, and that these topics ought to remain at the forefront of Australia's media. Honestly, killing the camels, I thought, would solve both the overpopulation problem and the water contamination problem, and, logistically it seemed like a legitimate action. I'm not saying it is a lasting solution, but during this crisis It seems to be the action with the most immediate outcome. I don't know if Australians are allowed guns but if I were an Australian living outside of the city during a wildfire and, I don't know, had water resources on my property, I would have no qualms over shooting a thirsty camel to death and I would believe that the law should support my actions. Although the camel doesn't know any better, it is my water that it would have stolen. The camel wouldn't even be there if it wasn't transported to Australia by earlier Australians, and now that the need for camel transportation doesn't exist it follows that another purpose be given to these camel populations. It might sound weird but why not round them up onto a farm and harvest them for meat?
    Reply
  • ABS314
    I understand your perspective. However, to me, the harvesting of living beings for meat is a too-convenient excuse to justify a quick solution and cruelty; moreover, it discourages more creative and better, long-range solutions. Death is not a purpose.
    Perhaps I don't understand the logistics of the situation but if the indigenous people are in a dangerous location for water, with the fires and all, wouldn't it be wiser to relocate them - at least temporarily - til the problem has been brought under control (or if it cannot be, won't they need to be moved anyway)? The camels could also be relocated (and darted with birth control).
    The visual is, a billion animals have already lost their lives, and now Australia wants to kill more. No matter the reason, this doesn't sound or look good.
    Reply
  • Rascel47
    Yeah that’s always the answer just kill the animals you would think that since people have created this issue not the animals that people would find a better solution than that maybe people there should have been working on a solution long before now I’m sure this issue just didn’t pop up over night and nothing deserves this kind of treatment these animals are probably smarter than these people I’m sure that if anyone put some effort into it someone could come up with a better solution than to kill these animals but that’s right it probably would take effort and money which apparently these people would rather just kill them instead of doing what would be the right thing and find a better solution all life matters something is so wrong with people who think this is okay because it is not okay something is wrong with this kind of behavior find a better solution if this is allowed to happen than you know that they is at least one person that is very disappointed in your country and mankind all together respect all life find a better solution
    Reply
  • IAmAReptilianAlien
    ABS314 said:
    I understand your perspective. However, to me, the harvesting of living beings for meat is a too-convenient excuse to justify a quick solution and cruelty; moreover, it discourages more creative and better, long-range solutions. Death is not a purpose.
    Perhaps I don't understand the logistics of the situation but if the indigenous people are in a dangerous location for water, with the fires and all, wouldn't it be wiser to relocate them - at least temporarily - til the problem has been brought under control (or if it cannot be, won't they need to be moved anyway)? The camels could also be relocated (and darted with birth control).
    The visual is, a billion animals have already lost their lives, and now Australia wants to kill more. No matter the reason, this doesn't sound or look good.

    I imagine that whoever is in charge considered the fact that a billion animals have perished, tragically including the iconic kangaroos and koalas. I'm sure they also considered their circumstance carefully- communities are infuriated because feral camels are wrecking havoc on their towns. Mind you these are camels that are not indigenous to Australia and probably not very culturally praised. I'm not defending Australia but I think it is a given that their government has allocated resources to combating the fire. It isn't financially feasible to relocate communities and 10,000 wild camels, and apparently there are no protections for camels. But of course not, they are like pests. Australians just want them gone and I'm sure they would welcome any speedy solution, they just maybe aren't too interested in coming up with any ideas of their own
    Reply
  • IAmAReptilianAlien
    Rascel47 said:
    Yeah that’s always the answer just kill the animals you would think that since people have created this issue not the animals that people would find a better solution than that maybe people there should have been working on a solution long before now I’m sure this issue just didn’t pop up over night and nothing deserves this kind of treatment these animals are probably smarter than these people I’m sure that if anyone put some effort into it someone could come up with a better solution than to kill these animals but that’s right it probably would take effort and money which apparently these people would rather just kill them instead of doing what would be the right thing and find a better solution all life matters something is so wrong with people who think this is okay because it is not okay something is wrong with this kind of behavior find a better solution if this is allowed to happen than you know that they is at least one person that is very disappointed in your country and mankind all together respect all life find a better solution

    Honestly I don't believe camels are smarter than Australians. You are right about the fact that early Australians are to blame for the camel overpopulation. Once camels fell out of use, something could have been done to relocate them back to their original lands. Possibly, modern Australians didn't consider it their responsibility to do anything about it. You are absolutely right that if someone put a little effort into it they could come up with a better solution than putting down the camels. But who is it gonna be? Do you have any suggestions? It may be that Australians genuinely don't care at all for camels because they are pests and believe killing them off just solves so many problems. Yes, pests are animals, and they are living, breathing creatures. But they are pests.
    Reply
  • DonTjudgeMe
    Are we GOD? We can't even saved millions of wildlife and now we are going to kill more. We are Humans Not Butchers. Australian Government should find any alternative way Cope this situation rather than killing camels who are already struggling for their survival. It's my opinion on Australian Government's cruel Act. What's your opinion?
    Reply