Controversial proposals by the Australian government would mean shooting more than 650,000 camels from helicopters – and even making camel burgers.

Camels have become a problem in Australia’s remote Outback.

There are now about a million camels, and the population doubles every nine years. The animals were introduced to the Australia in the 1840’s by explorers who relied on them to journey through the desert. But now, camels are competing with livestock for food – and are apparently scaring people by destroying water pipes and bathrooms as they search for water.

Sky News has reported that the Australian government believes the population needs to be culled by two thirds – and they have a budget of $19 million AUD to take care of the situation.

That means the mass killing of more than 650,000 camels.

Opposition to the slaughter

Pointing out that the population will simply double again, camel exporter Paddy McHugh believes the mass killing is short-sighted.

What happens in 15 years when the numbers come back again? Do we waste another $20 million?

Apparently, capturing and exporting hundreds of thousands of camels is just not realistic, according to President of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia. He explained that camels grow to about 2.1 meters tall (7 feet) and weigh 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds).

The option of birth control was suggested by Mark Pearson, executive director of the animal welfare group Animal Liberation New South Wales, noting that it would be more humane than killing them.

And last month in The Australian, entrepreneurs argued that camels should be harvested for their meat – and that camel meat represents a potential billion-dollar market, plus job creation for indigenous people.

Even CNBC personalities Erin Burnett and Jim Cramer took a swipe (of sorts) at the camel killing. Apparently, in a CNBC segment, Burnett called Australia’s Prime Minster Kevin Rudd a “serial killer” and Cramer said the action was a case of “camelcide.”

Although later, Burnett said the comment about the Prime Minister and the camel culling was a “deadpan” joke about a “complicated issue”, and invited the PM to appear on her show.

Brutal – yet humane?

CEO of the University of Canberra’s Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Center Tony Peacock declared that although being shot from a helicopter sounds brutal, it is actually humane:

If I was a camel, I’d prefer to just get it in the head.


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