The animals, shot down from helicopters, approached aboriginal villages in search of water and food, endangering the infrastructure and traffic | Despite being introduced into the country in 1840, they form the largest herd of this species in the world and are considered a pest
Armed forest rangers aboard helicopters slaughtered more than 5,000 camels in an operation that lasted five days to prevent the animals, thirsty from the wave of fires in Australia, from reaching Aboriginal communities.
The slaughter ended Sunday in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) region, an arid area of southern Australia where some 2,300 Aborigines live, APY director-general Richard King said Tuesday. Aborigines in the state of South Australia, where the region is located, warned of large herds of camels coming to rural villages for food and water amid an unprecedented heatwave.
The animals were jeopardizing the little food and water available in the area and threatening infrastructure and drivers. “We understand the concern of animal advocates, but there is significant misinformation about the reality of life for wild animals that are not native to this area, in one of the aridest and remote places on the planet,” King said in a statement.
The measure is intended to protect “the valuable water supplies for communities,” and he said the priority “in the lives of people, including children and the elderly, as well as native flora and fauna. According to the indigenous leader, the camels often get trapped in the wells, where they die, and end up contaminating the water.
Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2019, with extreme drought and a wave of fires that have devastated the southeast of the country and is not yet over.
Camels were first introduced to Australia in the 1840s to participate in the exploration of the interior of the country and the following decades some 20,000 were imported from India. Today Australia has the largest camel population in the world – more than one million, according to some experts. The animals are considered a pest because they contaminate water sources and trample on flora in their search for food.