Feral camel population not as big as once feared

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Camel cull helps reduce numbers in Outback Australia
Camels, camels, everywhere ... or are there?

Australia’s feral camel population may be nowhere near as high as previously estimated.

At the start of the Federal Government’s $19 million Australian Feral Camel Management Project back in 2009 the number of camels was estimated to be in the vicinity of one million, but that number was revised down to 750,000 in mid-2012.

In its final report, the organisation responsible for the culling program, Ninti One, now believes there are only 300,000 camels, with the population increasing at roughly 10% per year.

Over the past four years, the program culled about 160,000 camels from Central Australia using ground-based and aerial culling techniques.

Ninti One’s Managing Director, Jan Ferguson, told the ABC that without ongoing management the population will rebound.

“If we don’t stay on the case of these animals, we will get congregations of the like that we saw at Docker River in 2009,” she said. “No-one was ever precisely sure how many were out there.”

Ms Ferguson said the organisation had planes in the air counting camels over a sustained period of time to get a better picture of the feral camel problem.

“We’re a bit surprised about how susceptible camels are to drought,” she told the ABC. “It probably means that the original figure was around 600,000, so it was probably always a bit lower than we thought, but we’ve lost quite a lot through the really dry conditions.”

The report has identified a need for ongoing feral camel management, at an estimated cost of $4 million per year.

Ninti One says the cost of culling was generally between $25 and $50 per head, but smaller culls were more expensive costing up to $150 per head.

The largest cull removed 11,560 camels over 12 days in the south-west corner of the Northern Territory.

Have you noticed fewer camels roaming the Outback? Where have you seen the most camels? Comment below.

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5 Responses to Feral camel population not as big as once feared

  1. It’s a Shame that Most People think that the camel are a Problem..

    WE have one of the best disease free populations in the world..
    We should be exporting camel’s Not Killing the camel’s..

    the central Oz farmer’s that capture and train the camels for racing etc make a good profit selling them overseas..

    So Why Kill the Camel’s and just sell them..

    Over 11k killed in 12 day’s.. What did they do to them Bury them…
    Think of all the meat that was just thrown out to rot..

    What a Shame, Shame on Australia..

    • If you saw the damage these mobs of camels cause to the land and the feed they strip from areas, then it is not hard to justify the culls. Camels really are a threat to sections of our native wildlife.

  2. whenever we have feral,overpopulation probs,cannot help think-whats its usefulness-eg-beef jerky-Camel Jerky—–that doesnt mean-CaneToad jerky—-

  3. there are lots of feral animals in Australia that need to be exterminated. . Just reading in the local rag about rabbit problems. We have seen foxes also on occasions.

  4. only camels we saw were on cable beach broome. went from perth to Darwin twice by road. a few cows, 1 dingo, that’s it.

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