More Than 1 Million Feral Camels are Taking Over the Australian Outback


Photo: Obliot, Flickr, CC

Not Your Typical Invasive Species

Single-humped dromedary camels were brought to Australia mainly from India in the 19th century. They transported people and equipment in the outback, but when rail and roads came, the camels were let loose, "creating the world's only population of wild camels". It is now estimated that more than 1 million camels are spread over 3.3 million square kilometers (±1.3 million square miles), and they are causing a lot of damage to the local ecosystems.


Photo: Tambako, Flickr, CC

"They can do enormous damage," said Jan Ferguson, managing director of Ninti One Limited, the organization that manages the Feral Camel Management Project, which launched CamelScan. "They can eat up to very high heights in our trees. When water is short, they go for running water. They will take pipes and air conditioning units off of walls, and smash up toilet systems." [...]

The camels can chug more than 50 gallons of water in three minutes and their thirst often leads to problems. Sometimes when large numbers of feral camels converge on a small waterhole, the first animals get mired in the holes and die, fouling the water and destroying the waterhole completely. These waterholes are critical resources for humans and native birds and animals. [...]

"You need to count these animals. You need to know where they are and what they're doing," said Ferguson.

The website to track them is callled CamelScan and it uses the Google Maps API.


Photo: Wikipedia, CC

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Via Discovery News
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Tags: Animals | Australia