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What should be done about the impact of feral camels in Australia?
There are more than one million feral camels in Australia, and the population is set to double every ten years. They cover an area of more than 3 million square km, across most of the arid and semi-arid areas in Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and parts of Western Queensland.
Camels were first introduced into Australia as a working animal to assist with exploration and transport, but feral camels now have serious adverse environmental, agricultural and social impacts across a vast area of inner Australia. These impacts include loss of biodiversity and damage to fragile ecosystems, agricultural infrastructure and production, culturally important aboriginal sites and buildings and water sources in remote communities. The effects of global warming and drought are likely to exacerbate these problems in the future.
It is clear that action needs to be taken to manage the feral camel population. This action will require an integrated approach that uses a range of different strategies. Because of the size and impact of the current population, this is likely to require lethal control methods as well as long-term non-lethal measures to keep the population under control and at a density that keeps their impact to an acceptable level.
Camel populations are mobile and cross state and territory borders, so a coordinated national approach to impact management is needed. RSPCA Australia supports the development of a national approach to feral camel management, provided that any control programs are clearly explained and justified, designed to be effective in reducing those impacts and use the most humane methods available.
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