Camel population surge gives farmers the hump

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Ferak camels everywhere
Feral camels on the edge of the Simpson Desert. PIC: Ninti One/ABC

The ongoing drought in many parts of Australia has forced the Outback’s massive population of feral camels to go on the move … and they are popping up in places they have never been seen before.

Grain growers in the south-east coastal district of Western Australia were recently shocked by the sight of feral camels wandering through their crops. The ABC reports that the desert dwellers are rarely seen so far south, and are believed to be migrating away from dry conditions in the Nullarbor and Goldfields, in search of food and water.

Brett South spotted the eight camels on a dirt road next to his farm in Beaumont, about 130 kilometres north-east of the coastal town of Esperance.

“My grandfather-in-law has been farming out here for 20-odd years now and this is the first time he’s seen camels,” Mr South said. “I was a bit blown away … I thought they might have been sheep or cattle.”

Another herd of 10 feral camels was found on a farm in Mount Ridley, 100 kilometres to the east of Beaumont.

It is estimated there are 1–1.2 million feral camels in Australia, 45%of them in Western Australia.  According to the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, the population is growing by 8% each year.

The ABC reports that, because of the extensive damage they cause to pastoral infrastructure in WA, feral camels are declared pests in the state. The last federally-funded control program was the $19 million Australian Federal Camel Management Project. Between 2009 and 2013, 160,000 camels were culled in Central Australia using ground-based and aerial culling techniques.

Ross Wood is a biosecurity expert and chief executive of the Goldfields Nullarbor Rangelands Biosecurity Association, which carries out control programs on the camel populations in those arid regions.

“They’re gradually infiltrating into the pastoral zone and we’re spending more time and effort having to deal with them,” he told the ABC.

Mr Wood said successive governments had failed to deal with the pest problems on Crown land.

  • Have you seen feral camels on your journey? Comment below.

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4 Responses to Camel population surge gives farmers the hump

  1. 4th July 2017, we here held up for about 10 minutes by a herd of at least 25 camels about 100km east of Balladonia. We Have great photos of them on the road. This is the biggest herd we have seen in our travels. In the same week at least 5 camels were kill by trucks in the same area & 3 of the carcasses were still on the side of the road.

  2. We’re a small camel business in Central Victoria. Such a shame to see these magnificent creatures aren’t utilised better, ie. for meat, leather. Would prefer to see that happen than mere useless culling with carcasses left to rot.
    Pyrenees Camels

  3. The cull of camels –was said to be 160,000 but it is strange that helicopter pilots – could never discover any of the so culled 160,000 in any of the areas that were reported to have happened — ???? so who is the government paying for all this bullshit — I was in the same area at the time nothing was found ??

  4. Maybe the farmers should be allowed to cull and sell them them for pet meat. Would give them a little extra needed income.

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