Wild Camels Overrun Resources in Outback

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 12, 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Wild Camels Overrun Resources in Outback


Byline: D.M. Fox, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

ADELAIDE, Australia -- It's being described as a plague. More than 1 million wild camels are wreaking havoc in huge parts of Australia, eating the vegetation, destroying property, fouling and consuming water sources, desecrating indigenous sites and causing road accidents.

About 170 years after being introduced to the continent as a pack animal to open its arid interior, Australia's feral camel population is the biggest in the world. The camels double their numbers every nine years and continually expand their domain.

Their hearty population gives no joy to Australians, and some have been exported to Asia and the Middle East.

A report by the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Center in Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory, estimates that feral camels roam an area of about 2 million square miles - more than a third of the continent.

We have to reduce numbers in a big way, said wildlife scientist Glenn Edwards, the report's chief author. A lot of camels are in remote areas, and for those there is probably no option but to cull them.

The scope of the proposed cull is huge: 400,000 camels would be destroyed in the next two years and 700,000 in the next four years, offering the nightmarish vision of sharpshooters in helicopters targeting animals that have achieved almost iconic status in Australia's history.

Between 1840 and 1920, an estimated 20,000 camels were brought to Australia to explore and develop the inhospitable Outback. They transported goods and helped build the railroad and the telegraph. Along with them came thousands of drivers, many, but not all, from Afghanistan.

The Ghan, Australia's legendary north-south transcontinental railroad, is named in honor of the cameleers.

With the advent of motorized vehicles and the railroad, the camel trains became less useful.

Many of the cameleers did not want to destroy their animals, so they let them loose into the wild and expected them to die off.

Instead, the camels thrived, feasting on saltbush and spinifex grasses. They have multiplied to the point at which they've become a huge nuisance, especially during droughts when herds of up to 400 thirsty camels go on rampages and trample everything in their way to find water.

To get the population under control, environmentalists are seeking $45 million in federal funds over the next four years while the areas with substantial camel populations - the Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia - are working with the federal government on an action plan.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Wild Camels Overrun Resources in Outback
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?