December 4, 2009

Camel Carcasses Contaminate Australian Waterholes

The cadavers of thousands of camels who have perished from lack of water in the Australia Outback are contaminating important waterholes and consecrated areas.

The Central Land Council, which guards and upholds Aboriginal land, announced that the deceased camels were harming water supplies.

"Some fall into waterholes and won't be able to get out so they'll rot within the water, others will chase the last remains of any water in these areas and start to compete with each other," the council's land management chief David Alexander lamented to ABC News. "We're ending up with these grisly scenes of camels in every stage of life, death and decay around waterholes."

Numerous water supplies for indigenous peoples are now undrinkable, and many predict a "significant health risk" when rains eventually cover them.

Without noteworthy rainfall, Alexander predicts that thousands of camels will be lost in the drought-plagued area, and the region will be faced with environmental and cultural difficulties.

"It has the capacity to change the flow of water, it changes the character of these places and some of the specific features around them have their own cultural significance, they have stories associated with them, ceremonial songs," Alexander said.

In the meantime, officials are working on an aerial gathering of 3,000 camels close to the isolated Docker River with helicopters.

Prolonged drought sent the mammals into the town looking for water, traumatizing residents as the camels damaged water mains and gathered on the airstrip.

The herd, a mere slice of the one million wild camels in Australia, will be sent to an area far away from the township and destroyed, Alexander said.

Aboriginal elders are going to work with the snipers in choosing an area to eliminate the animals down that was far away from water supplies and culturally revered spots.

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