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Camel cull to proceed in Australia amid wildfire crisis

Feral camels are pictured walking in Boulia, central west Queensland, Australia. File/Getty Images

Around 10,000 camels are set to be slaughtered in Australia due to the severe drought situation in the country.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, feral camels have been entering communities in search of water, endangering people’s safety.

The camel cull will happen in the remote north-west region of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (AYP) Lands, the publication states.

READ MORE: Australia wildfires fan fears of ‘detrimental’ impact to tourism industry

The increase in the camel population in the area has posed threat to its infrastructure, putting in danger the lives of families and community members as thousands of camels flock to their water sources amid the drought, according to the South Australia Department for Environment and Water (DEW).

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The persistent heat and drought have also exacerbated the wildfire crisis in Australia, which is experiencing its worst bushfire season in decades.

READ MORE: Australia is on fire, but what’s igniting the blaze?

The APY Lands released a statement on its Facebook page regarding the camel cull, saying it would involve aerial operations.

Richard King, APY Lands manager, told ABC the camels typically come right into communities to find water, giving them the opportunity to cull all at once.

“It gives us an opportunity to get them while they’re all together, because generally they’ll go and move around the desert in smaller herds,” he said.

“So while they’re all together it’s a great time to have a cull and clean out some of the animals that are destroying some of our native vegetation.”

He added that dead camels have also been responsible for serious contamination in the rural lands.

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‘It felt like a movie’: Canadian recounts family’s narrow escape from Australia bushfire – Jan 7, 2020

“In some cases, dead camels have contaminated important water sources and cultural sites,” he said.

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This isn’t the first time camel culling has occurred in Australia.

Every summer in the country, camels emerge from the Gibson Desert in search of water. They drain water points meant for cows, destroy fences and steal feed, the ABC reported last year.

In 2009, The Guardian reported that camels double their population every nine years, meaning there are now about one million camels roaming the country.

READ MORE: Canadian narrowly escapes Australia’s firestorm with family — ‘It felt like a movie’

That year, the government pledged AU$19 million to a program to help limit the population by sending shooters on foot and by helicopter to kill the overpopulated species.

It has even considered a proposal to turn some of them into burgers and other foods.

Camels were first brought to the country to help with exploration in the 19th century.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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