The Australian Feral Camel Management Project addressed the urgent need to significantly reduce feral camel densities to lessen their impacts in remote Australia on biodiversity, wetlands, waterholes and sites of cultural value to Aboriginal people, infrastructure (fences, houses, cars) and personal safety.
Feral camels can be a significant pest across more than 3 million km2 in the arid and semi-arid parts of WA, SA, the NT and parts of western Qld, and individual camels range over many thousands of hectares in any given year. They cause damage to infrastructure and livelihoods each year. Costs to the natural environment and the cultural values of Aboriginal people are difficult to quantify but are considered to be significant. With the likelihood of drier and hotter periods in the rangelands associated with global warming, the impact of camels on the fragile wetlands of arid Australia and other key biodiversity values will be exacerbated.
The Australian Feral Camel Management Project was a national approach, which brought together for the first time all of the relevant state and territory governments (SA, WA, Qld, NT), Aboriginal organisations across the four jurisdictions (land trusts, corporations and land councils), NRM boards, conservation groups, the pastoral industry and commercial interests to protect identified refuges for biodiversity in northern and remote Australia that were under threat from feral camels.
Commercial use of feral camels includes mustering for domestic meat processing and ground culling for petmeat. The Australian Feral Camel Management Project (AFCMP) recognised the potential of both forms of removal to contribute to feral camel management and provided a range of support for these activities. Beyond the AFCMP, there are a number of challenges facing ongoing commercial use that are discussed in this paper.