Camel Pictures and Facts

Australian Camels

Dromedary camels

Dromedary camels.

Image Source: Michelle Callinan / License under Creative Commons 2.0

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Dromedary camels are found primarily in the Sahara Desert in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East. However the world's largest population of feral dromedary camels, are in the western outback in Australia.
[1] Between 1840 and 1907 thousand camels were imported into Australia. These camels were used for riding, draft and pack animals, and exploration. By performing these tasks camels first brought in the explorers, surveyors and road builders. Then the settlers and industry followed. And finally camels supplied critical goods to new settlements and remote mines. Their services were essential to opening up the center of the continent to development. By the 1920s there were an estimated 20,000 domesticated camels in Australia. By 1930 they had done their work, and the new railroads and motor transportation system (roads), which they helped build, replaced them. No longer needed but well suited to Australia's arid interior deserts these feral camels bred prolifically across areas of the Northwest Territory, Western Australia and South Australia, and into parts of Queensland. Today by conservative estimates there are about 500,000 feral camels in central Australia. Some estimates put the population at close to a million. [2]

A dromedary camel receiving a pet

A dromedary camel receiving a pet.

Image Source: "a little azorean" / License under Creative Commons 2.0

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On December 16, 2004 the Australian government allocated $854,000 to tackle feral animals in Australia.
[3] A feral species is one that has escaped, been accidentally released, or has otherwise departed from domestication and returned, at least in part, to a wild state. Examples of feral species include both the American mustang (horse), the Africanized honey bee ("killer bee"), and of course the Australian feral camel. When a feral species becomes damaging to its environment, threatening native plants and animals, or posing new and significant problems to its human counterparts, then a humble plant becomes a "weed," a pet kitten becomes a feral cat preying upon native birds, or the Asian carp (fish) invades the Upper Mississippi River System of the USA outcompeting the population of native fish. [4] As yet, the feral camel of Australia has not had the impact upon Australia that the feral Asian carp has had upon the native species of fish in North America, but it has been suggested that one method of controlling a feral species is... "If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em," as suggested by J. M. Franke in "The Invasive Species Cookbook: Conservation Through Gastronomy." [5] Though the Australian feral camel now has little demand to be used as a beast of burden in the Australian outback, it can be ridden as an Australian brombee (horse) can be ridden, it can be a tourist attraction to photograph and ride, or even eaten. In 2005, Peter Siedel, a spokesman for the Central Australian Camel Industry Association, stated that the feral camel population of Australia doubles every eight to ten years, so reducing central Australia's population by 25,000 per year by exporting the camels to Muslim markets in Europe or the US for restaurant or supermarket consumption as an alternate health meat, would contribute to halting the increase of Australian feral herds. [6]

sitting camel

Image Source for two camels: Neil Carey
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