6,000 Thirsty Camels Who Invaded Australian Town Will Be Killed

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6,000 Thirsty Camels Who Invaded Australian Town Will Be Killed

From Telegraph.co.uk

Driven toward humans to find water, as drought ravages the countryside, authorities are planning to reclaim the town, which is home to around 350 people, by herding up the camels with helicopters and shooting them.

Residents in the Northern Territory settlement have been left cowering in their homes after the animals trampled fences, smashed through water mains and invaded the airstrip.

The camels, driven to extreme lengths by prolonged drought, have even tried to force their way into people’s homes to drink water from air conditioning units and taps.

However, authorities are planning to reclaim the town, which is home to around 350 people, by herding up the camels with helicopters and shooting them.

Rob Knight, the local government minister, said: "The community of Docker River is under siege by 6,000 marauding, wild camels.

"This is a very critical situation out there, it's very unusual and it needs urgent action. We don't have the luxury of time because the herd is getting bigger.”

The government has pledged $49,000 Australian (£27,000) to combating the camels and repairing damage they have caused.

Over the next week, helicopters will be used to drive them about nine miles into the desert before marksmen cull them from the air.
The move has been welcomed by the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association.

It’s chief Luke Bowen said: "This is a plague of biblical proportions laying waste to a sensitive and arid environment. We have to have action, we have to have it now.”

He added that farmers were sick of the humped pests, which are estimated to number more than one million in the Northern Territory's vast red-sand reaches.

The camels, which are not native to Australia but were introduced in the 1840s, have smashed water tanks in the town and are becoming more aggressive towards residents.

Local shire chief Graham Taylor said: "I think the words 'under siege' are good words because it talks about people being stuck in their homes and looking out and seeing just numbers of camels at your front door.”

Fears have also been raised that the carcases of camels killed in stampedes at water storage areas are also contaminating the water supply.

In August, the federal government set aside 19 million Australian dollars for a scheme to reduce the wild camel population, including a possible mass slaughter.

Glenys Oogjes, executive director of national advocacy group Animals Australia, said the plan to kill camels by helicopter was barbaric, and that the community could instead focus on setting up barriers to keep out the camels.

"It's a terrible thing that people react to these events by shooting," she said. "The real concern is the terrible distress and wounding when shot by helicopter. There will be terrible suffering."
Camels were first brought to Australia to help explorers travel through the desert.

However, with few natural predators their numbers have swollen and they now compete with sheep and cattle for food and spread disease, They have also destroyed revegetation projects in the desert communities by ripping up plants.