April 1, 2009

Wild Camels Bothersome To Australia’s Desert Ecosystem

Wild camels wandering in the Australian outback are becoming a nuisance, as they are turning on outside water faucets in their search for water, officials announced Wednesday.

"In a number of our communities it's quite common for camels to enter the community, and if there are any taps adjacent to houses they're quite capable of either turning the taps on or knocking the taps off so they get water," said Wayne Wright, chief of the Macdonnell Shire Council.

The problem is becoming so extreme, Wright noted, that the council has requested $3.1 million dollar grant to construct fences and grids to shut out the camels.

The camels are also demolishing costly re-vegetation projects in desert communities, said Wright.

A three-year research project discovered that Australia's population of a million wild camels, the biggest wild herd in the world, is unmanageable and destructive to the delicate desert ecosystems, water sources, plants and animals.

Camels were brought into the outback as pack animals in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, but were freed as rail and road travel became the norm for voyages.

As there are only a few predators and huge and sparingly populated areas to roam, it population has grown, applying strain on native species by fighting for food, obliterating habitats and dispersing disease.