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Which Country Has the World’s Largest Herd of Wild Camels?

For decades, camels remained valuable assets in the everyday life of colonial rulers. They were in demand as they could be used for travel and transportation during long journeys into the continent’s interiors. Besides, their ability to carry on without drinking water for weeks was an advantage for expeditions in dry regions. But did you ever wonder which country has the world’s largest herd of camels?

The world’s largest herd of wild camels is found in Australia, where their number is believed to be at 300,000 and spread across 37% of the continent. Australia, fed up with camels, has labeled them a “pest” and treats them as an alien invasive species that needs to be stopped from spreading.

How Did Camels Arrive in Australia?

Camels, unlike horses, were well-suited to surviving in outback Australia’s driest regions. 

They were in high demand since they could be used for extended travels into the continent’s interiors. In addition, their ability to go weeks without drinking water was an extra benefit for traveling in dry areas.

Camels remained essential assets in the daily lives of colonial rulers in Australia for decades. By 1907, the British had imported approximately 20,000 camels into Australia, most of which came from India, Afghanistan, and the middle east.

Camels were accompanied by their riders, who were predominantly Muslims. They played a crucial role in Australia’s growth over the decades. They began to integrate with Aboriginal communities by establishing trade by bringing in items such as tea and tobacco. (Source: India Today

The Camel’s Rapid Population Growth

From the 1920s, the population of domestic camels in Australia began declining. Over the next decade, Australia saw a wholesale abandonment of camels. The world of innovation moved on, as did the use of motorized vehicles to get from place to place.

Once released in the wild, these camels became feral and multiplied rapidly. In 1969, the population of such wild camels roaming in outback Australia was estimated to be between 15,000 and 20,000. In the next 20 years, their population more than doubled.

Australia’s number of feral camels has lessened from 1 million to about 600,000. Wildlife experts warned that if this population growth went unchecked, their number would double in 8-10 years and be wiped out within decades. Soon after, the Australian government adopted the National Feral Camel Action Plan and began massive culling operations. (Source: India Today

Culling Operations for the Camel’s Increased Population

Culling operations in South Australia’s remote locations began on January 8, 2020. Almost 10,000 camels may be shot down by the end of the year. The local government, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, issued the decree.

In a statement issued on January 7, 2020, APY justified the culling as an immediate response to threats posed to residents by a surge in the number of feral camels due to drought and excessive heat.

Culling wild camels with helicopters has become routine in Australia. It is one of three methods used to keep their population in check. The other two are culling from the ground and exclusion fencing. (Source: India Today)

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